Over time, seemingly small gestures accumulate into life-changing leadership from people putting others ahead of themselves and encouraging individuals to follow their example.
Paul Nicholl experienced this during his apprenticeship as a greenkeeper in the NSW Central West town of Condobolin, where Malcolm Nash was head greenkeeper at the local bowling club.
Community values are the heart of everything Paul Nicholl from Bayldon Ag at Queabeyan does. The Condobolin born agricultural equipment dealer talks to Genevieve Jacobs about leadership, taking pride in your business and supporting staff through the tough times.
Posted by The RiotACT on Tuesday, 9 June 2020
The Condobolin Bowling Club nurtured young staff and reaped the dividends. Malcolm had been an apprentice under Paul’s older brother Graham, who is better known as Joe. The two families’ overseeing of the greens has prevailed for many years. Malcolm is still in Condobolin and is a lifelong friend of Paul, the owner and managing director of Bayldon Ag farm equipment supplier in Queanbeyan.
Learning mechanical and ground preparation skills, Paul became a greenkeeper at Hillston further out west in NSW. He then worked for bowls and golf clubs in Sydney, and by the time he arrived in Canberra in 1993 as assistant greenkeeper at the former South Canberra Bowling Club in Griffith, he had broad industry knowledge.
Thriving on presenting quality playing surfaces for bowls competition, he had become head greenkeeper by the time the club closed, when the ACT Brumbies acquired the site.
The roots of Paul’s inherent regard for his community took hold in Condobolin with Leos, the precursor to Lions, where he was president. In Canberra, he joined Rotaract – Rotary’s precursor – and gave 100 per cent there, too. As well as meeting his future wife among the young members, he became District 9710’s representative and met former NSW Governor Sir David Martin.
The charismatic former naval officer who established a foundation to help young Australians in crisis talked with Paul for less than an hour, yet his words of encouragement left a lifelong impact.
“Sir William Deane was the same,” says Paul. “He cared for his community. He did a lot for Aboriginal health and Aboriginal support in the country. He was a brilliant individual, a real eye-opener for me. A great person to sit down and talk with. I was lucky enough to have a private audience with him.”
Later, leaving greenkeeping, Paul’s skills steered him into the irrigation sector where he began selling products for Deves Field. Company owner Peter Butterfield proved a sound mentor as Paul soaked up more industry knowledge.
Selling came intuitively. “Knowing and understanding the product and believing in what I was selling were the keys,” says Paul. “A lot of people sell customers what they want, but don’t sell them what they need. There’s a big difference. Getting what they need right is crucial. Sales is about helping people – it should never be about the salesperson.”
Paul continued with other irrigation companies until illness forced him to take time off. When he recovered, he joined Bayldon Ag, loaded with ideas, enthusiasm and contacts in the turf industry. Three months later he became sales manager.
Three years later, in 2014, Paul’s confident leadership led to him buying Bayldon Ag to keep the staff and their community links intact.
“Being older and wiser, I started getting involved in groups such as Menslink, which give back to young guys in the community,” he says. “This really touches me. They are a fantastic organisation. Their chief executive, Martin Fisk, is a really great guy. I got to know him really well and love the work they do.”
Becoming involved in Lifeline Australia, Paul met Josh Williams, the man behind Canberra Cavalry mascot Sarge. Josh uses the baseball mascot’s uniform to support Lifeline, which had helped him previously.
Paul gets involved, too. “I have a lot of friends – ex-army guys, ex-defence, ex-police – who really struggle with mental health,” he says. “I may not be able to give the right advice all the time, but can help in other ways.”
Bayldon Ag sponsors Sarge and employs Josh. The Calvary now owns ice hockey team CBR Brave. True to form, Paul stepped in with sponsorship there, too. The company’s sponsorship is widespread, having helped cancer support group Rise Above, as well as the Queanbeyan Show.
The agricultural business ethos begins within its own team and staff development, a legacy of that little bowling club in Condobolin.
It’s unsurprising that Bayldon Ag’s new brand ambassador has arrived with a record of being an ambassador for apprentices and community causes. Alan Tongue captured the entire ACT region with his tenacious captaincy of the Canberra Raiders, and now continues putting in the hard yards.
“The guy is an absolute champion, he would do anything for anyone,” says Paul. “He is absolutely committed to what he does.”