- A local business that started in a home office at Umina is now the multi-million-dollar naming rights partner of the Central Coast’s signature stadium;
- The Industree Group Stadium signage is up on the beautiful Central Coast venue that sits on the banks of the Brisbane Water at Gosford, and which is now driving a new golden era for the visitor economy on the Coast;
- The man behind Industree Group is local businessman and keen sports fan Jason Stenning, who kicked off his Personal Protective Equipment company from his backyard. Today, Industree Group is a world-recognised innovator, designer and manufacturer of PPE operating out of a busy premises at Berkeley Vale.
By MATT CLEARY
Jason Stenning loves Industree Group Stadium on the Central Coast for the same reason everyone does. From the Sydney Roosters to Australia’s Matildas to the greater playing squad of Central Coast Mariners, they’ll tell you it’s because of one thing: those palm trees at the southern end.
It’s not just the trees, of course. There’s the aspect over the bay which offers a route for a breeze off all that Brisbane Water. It’s because fans can walk out the Central Coast Leagues Club door and effectively straight into the ground. It’s because 20,059 people can fill the place for a big football game and feel like they’re “on” the action – even with an entire end dedicated to the sparkling southern vista.
Mainly it’s because the stadium is beautiful. Indeed, good photographers, at dusk, particularly those skilled with a drone, can make it look like something painted by Claude Monet.
“There’s nowhere like it,” Stenning says. “I’ve seen plenty of stadiums around the world and I truly believe it’s one of the best.”
Stenning is uniquely placed to comment. Along with Industree Group’s two other owners, they’ve put their money where their mouth is. Industree Group – the premium design and manufacturing company that Stenning founded from his home office in 2007 – is today the Stadium’s naming rights sponsor. The signs are up. And the signs are good. Indeed, if you ask locals, from Council workers to corporates, the same sentiment comes up: it’s a good fit.
Good little yarn, too: locals done good; suppliers of personal protective equipment to industrial and health sectors; savvy and caring operators who didn’t sell out their equipment during the bushfires and Covid-19 but rather shared it among front-line workers; sports fans who’ve quietly given back to local teams, charities, golf days, surf clubs and not-for-profits; in 2011 before it was trendy they were early adopters of carbon neutral operations.
And word is that officials at Central Coast Council, which still owns the Stadium on behalf of the community, are said to be very pleased that a successful local company is naming rights partner of their gem by the bay.
Venue Manager Kath Casey has been working at the Stadium since the 2003 Rugby World Cup. She was there through the John Singleton BlueTongue Stadium era and today with the Stadium under the management of leading event and venue management company VenuesLive. She says Stenning, his wife Melanie and Chief Executive Officer Jon Fleming are “genuinely good humans”.
“For them to give back to the community, it’s fantastic. The economic benefits are a lot bigger than just putting the sign on the Stadium. It’s about showcasing the region. It’s important for the region to show that business is thriving here on the Central Coast,” Casey says.
Events are big business. It’s why state premiers so court State of Origins, Olympic Games, Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed golf league. Successful events on the Central Coast mean increased business for hotel and accommodation operators, restaurants, pubs, clubs and retail stores. Big events bring soaring visitation numbers.
Since July 1, when VenuesLive took over management rights of the fresh-minted Industree Group Stadium, a number of events have been secured for the Central Coast region, including:
* The Matildas’ first ever game on the Coast, a friendly against Thailand in the build-up to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup;
* NRL Pre-Season Challenge double-headers in February and a Sydney Roosters home game during the year, with more regular-season NRL fixtures to come;
* Cup of Nations Women’s Football double header in February, featuring Spain v Jamaica followed by our own Matildas v Czechia;
* The Euro Champions England to base themselves on the Central Coast for the duration of the Women’s World Cup;
* A new deal with Central Coast Mariners for both men’s and women’s A-Leagues games;
* A host of local community, cultural and charity events.
Stenning is looking forward to getting amongst them. You might also find him on a picnic rug with his family enjoying Cinema Under the Stars. Over the years he’s seen Nitro Circus and Monster Trucks and slept out to raise money for the homeless.
Stenning grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches where he developed a tragic love for Manly Sea Eagles. Aged 15, the family relocated to Umina on the Central Coast. Following high school, Stenning says he wasn’t keen on higher education.
“I don’t know if I’ve got a learning impairment . . . some people tell me I’m high intellect. I just reckon I get bored easily. Maybe it’s the same thing, I don’t know!” he says with a smile.
After high school, Stenning was doing work experience in a physiotherapy clinic with a view to going to university as a mature age student but got tired of having no money. His dad suggested he try for a job in a sales company until he figured out what he wanted to do.
What he figured out was that he was excellent at sales. He quickly became the company’s best salesperson. After a decade he decided that he needed autonomy and left his job to venture out on his own. And from his home office he put a business plan together. He didn’t reach out to private equity or angel investors. He knew he didn’t have to.
“I basically just implemented the business plan and started off doing procurement and distribution. I went straight into business. I’d developed a lot of contacts. I sourced products for companies with supply chain issues. And either had products made or sourced locally or imported, then supplied to that client. It was a solutions-driven business,” Stenning says.
Fleming, who’s known Stenning for 20 years as friend and colleague, says there’s “something of the mad scientist about him”.
“Yes, he’s a great salesman. But he’s a great designer, too. Really innovative,” Fleming says.
Where Industree Group really grew wings was when Stenning met his wife, Melanie, an MBA in international business with experience in finance who’s been “instrumental in helping set up the back end of the business,” according to Stenning. “Today we supply best-in-class, premium PPE to multitudes of clients across Australia and numerous other countries.”
Stenning will tell you he’s never experienced a “pinch me” moment when he’s sat back and realised that his business has gone from one man with a laptop to the naming rights sponsor of the beloved local stadium, a company that employs over 30 staff locally and overseas. In fact, he’ll tell you that “overnight success has taken 15 years”.
Fleming, whom Stenning says was the primary driver of negotiations about naming rights (“I just learned about it by osmosis,” Stenning says, smiling), reveals that Industree Group and Central Coast Council have “entered into a five-year Stadium naming rights agreement” worth “multiple millions of dollars”.
“The future is truly exciting with our business plans seeing Industree Group set for further expansion domestically and overseas.
“Best in class PPE, combined with the determination to succeed long-term, will help underpin our continued support of all things important to Industree Group, including: a carbon zero approach; donations; sponsorships; and, of course, the long-term association and support of the Central Coast region via our Industree Group Stadium partnership,” Fleming says.
Fleming is a former local footballer whose daughter Harriette plays for the Mariners. He says he’s a passionate supporter of the club and hopes to see the men’s and women’s team deliver silverware this season and beyond. He wants everyone along for the ride.
“I urge all of our community to get behind the Mariners. The community’s support will go a long way to get the team to the top of the summit in the men’s and women’s A-Leagues competitions.
“I’d also urge people to get behind Industree Group Stadium as it continues hosting and attracting new world-class events,” Fleming says.
And those palm trees? They’re not going anywhere. Not on Kath Casey’s watch.
“We’re very passionate about our palm trees and bayside setting. We’re unique in that aspect. You wouldn’t want to close in one end and be able to stand down there. The aspect is such a selling point. I don’t think the community would allow it,” Casey says.