Corowa RSL Club’s new boss Peter Norris has enjoyed his first seven weeks in the job and already has ideas for the place, including revamping the gaming room and making the club a more family-friendly venue.
Mr Norris was previously the operations manager at Howlong Golf Resort where he played a key part in the many improvements to the club and its growth over the past six years, which included major renovations to a gaming room and adding some apartment-style accommodation.
The 44-year-old has also worked as a HR manager for an Albury business and prior to that was general manager of the Thurgoona Golf Club for five years.
“I have been working in clubs for eleven years before starting here,” Mr Norris said.
“The difference here is that there’s no golf course, obviously, and that removes that complication from the business and there’s also no accommodation here at this stage.
“In terms of our business we have food, beverages, gaming and entertainment.
“It’s probably a simpler business model but it’s a bigger business with 90 staff members, which is about double the staff.”
Mr Norris said while one of the most enjoyable aspects of his new job was meeting all the staff, it was also the most challenging.
As a father of two girls, a 12-year-old and a 6-year-old who are settled at school in Howlong, Mr Norris will continue to live in Howlong.
In his spare time he enjoys running and tries to run 100 kilometres a week.
“Exercise helps keep the mind sharp and I enjoy it a lot,” he said.
“I have been to Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea all this year to take part in Spartan Racing.”
Mr Norris said with his family in mind, he had been looking for a new challenge but did not want to move out of the area.
“This came up and it was the perfect opportunity for me,” he said.
Mr Norris said the industry had changed a bit since he first started working in clubs.
“You would have had to have been probably 55 to 60 to have the general manager’s role in a club, so it’s changing,” he said.
“It’s probably more accepted now that younger people can run a club and bring fresh ideas in.”
Mr Norris said clubs played a major role in the community.
“I think one of the things people can forget about in working for clubs is the role we play in the community,” he said.
“We are a not-for-profit businesses and part of our charter is to reinvest in the community club, so these facilities are for not only our members, but also the local community and we support schools and all the other businesses in the town where we can.
“Our board is great and I have had two board meetings since starting here and they have been very supportive and certainly have the community at the forefront of any ideas.”
The number one project on his list will be renovating the gaming room, which consists of 200 pokies.
“We won’t be adding more pokies, just improving the layout, some painting and new carpet to freshen the place up a little bit,” Mr Norris said.
“We will then have a look at some things around the club that might improve our customer experience to make ourselves a little more family-friendly, some feedback that I have had is that maybe that hasn’t been the case in the past so we will be working on that.”
Howlong Golf Resort General Manager Chris Rebbechi said while it was sad to see Mr Norris leave, it was a “fantastic career progression for him”.
“We congratulate him on his appointment,” Mr Rebbechi said.
“He has been an incredibly hard worker and an innovative thinker, who has been well respected by his colleagues and the membership.
“To leave us was a very difficult decision for Peter and one that he laboured over as he enjoyed working at the club so much.
“He was passionate about the role, enjoyed the challenges, loved the autonomy and has been a key driver behind much of the growth and improvements at the club over the past six years.
“Whilst it is very sad for us, it is an amazing opportunity for Peter and we wish him every success in the new role.”
The club’s replacement is Chris Bale who relocated with his wife and three children from Taree.
Mr Bale was the operations manager at Club Taree for four years and prior to that was duty manager for ten years.
The 37-year-old has been in the new job for two weeks and is looking forward to helping drive the club forward.
“It was time for a new experience and a change of scenery,” Mr Bale said.
“The community and my work colleagues have made me feel very welcome.
“I am excited to come in with fresh ideas but at the moment I am getting up to speed with getting to know all the members and staff.”