THE well-known chain of Harvey World travel agencies run by Newcastle’s Pearson family has come under the wing of getaway juggernaut Flight Centre.
Come February 1, the Pearsons’ five branches in Toronto, Charlestown, Kotara, Mt Hutton and Glendale will be rebranded as Escape Travel, a franchise network belonging to the Flight Centre Travel Group.
The Pearson family’s vacation vocation began in 1973, when patriarch Richard, inspired by a year of wandering the world, applied for a traineeship at Jayes Travel Service in King Street, Newcastle.
Rising to the post of general manager of about 13 Jayes stores, he left after 25 years to found the family’s first Harvey World branch in Toronto in 1997, before setting up the Kotara branch.
Bringing on board sons Adam, 42, and Geoff, 38, the family founded the remaining three branches, with Adam and Geoff now running operations.
The five-strong franchise, which today celebrates 17 years in business and many industry accolades, employs 35 staff and has a gross annual turnover of $40million.
Geoff says the family’s decision to enter the Escape Travel fold came after the recent move by Jetset Travelworld, which includes the Harvey World Travel, Jetset Travel, Travelscene America Express and Travelworld brands, to rebrand as helloworld.
‘‘It gave us the opportunity to look more closely at our business ... to see what else was in the market, to check is there something different that we hadn’t thought of,’’ he says.
They chose the Flight Centre group because it had ‘‘the biggest and best name in travel, and they ran a very good and personal style of business’’.
‘‘The Escape Travel model emerged as the favourite due to the high quality of the marketing, IT support, training operations and the superior buying power of the Flight Centre group,’’ says Geoff, adding that translates to cheaper deals for customers.
Richard remains impressed by the Escape Travel technology systems, a far cry from the days when he first started out: ‘‘I remember hand-written tickets and sending a telex to Melbourne to Ansett to ask for a seat!’’
TWENTY five years ago last week, a ‘‘young, blond, pimple-faced kid from Maitland’’ got a job at Lawler Partners in his home town.
Steve Meyn is now a partner and managing director at Lawlers and last Friday his career milestone was marked over morning tea at the firm’s flash new Newcastle West bunker.
Founding partner and director Terry Lawler was in attendance alongside colleagues including Andrew Beattie, who penned an internal email with the aforementioned description of the younger Meyn, who he applauded for his unwavering support to the firm and staff, continual innovation and zest for life.
Meyn thanked colleagues Simon Rutherford and Ray Tolcher for giving him a start ‘‘in God’s Country’’, aka East Maitland, alongside Terry Lawler and his team.
‘‘[The recognition is] not needed as I love what I do, but it is very humbling’’, Meyn said, while no doubt mentally banking congratulatory offers of his favourite brew, Tooheys New.
LAST week we reported that Skildare HR Consultants is among the many Hunter firms eyeing growth in 2014, with husband and wife owners Diane and Adam Loong looking to advertise two more positions before June.
The firm leases serviced offices at The Business Centre (Newcastle Region) on King Street, given the Loongs and their staff are rarely in the office as they travel to their Hunter clients.
They may not, however, be as busy as The Business Centre’s managing director Narelle McClelland, who recently knocked over the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii.
The head of the small business mentoring organisation likened the qualities she needed to cross the finish line to those needed by SME owners, including skill, passion, focus and resilience.
Narelle clocked 12 hours, 40 minutes, beating none other than that most pompous of UK celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay by two hours.
FINANCE BUSINESS GROWS
STILL on growth, Newcastle Financial Planning has increased its team of employees by 38.5per cent – from 13 to 18 – in less than six months.
It also plans to hire at least another five staff this year.
Their most recent appointment was financial planner Matthew McCabe, who left his role in Sydney at OnePath Financial Planning for the Hunter post.
NEW CHARITABLE MEMBER
GREATER Building Society chief information officer Bruce White has been appointed to the board of the Greater Charitable Foundation.
Funded through the building society’s profits, the foundation has allocated almost $3million to charities since 2011, with the board finalising a $1million allocation for 2014.
HEROIC HOLIDAY COLUMNIST
IF anyone deserves a pay rise surely it’s my erstwhile colleague Jason ‘‘Greenbacks’’ Gordon, who heroically put up his hand to pen this column over the festive break, when most businesses ground to a halt and news was scarcer than loose change.