PROMINENT business identity Ross Smith has taken a step back from the corporate world and moved ‘down south’ in search of a fresh start.
Mr Smith is perhaps best known for his roles as managing director of two prominent technology companies – daytraderHQ and Pilbara Mines.
Encouraged by the growth potential of the Margaret River region, Mr Smith relocated with his family 12 months ago and now plans to develop a $2 million micro brewery with a twist.
Mr Smith, whose only remaining link with his business past is in the role of non executive director at Pilbara Mines, has recently received development approval for what he said will be the only micro brewery in the Southern Hemisphere to grow its own hops on site.
Mr Smith said that, like wine grapes, hops take on the regional characteristics of the area they are planted in. Up until about 40 years ago Cowaramup, Manjimup and Pemberton were big hop growing areas.
Situated eight kilometres north-east of Margaret River on the Smith’s 20.25-hectare wine and table grape property, the Colonial Brewery Company will include a 120-seat licensed restaurant, shop, stables for a Clydesdale horse working team and a reception centre for private functions.
The brewery will specialise in malting and using barley and hops grown on site.
“We wanted to develop something that generated traffic and where there was a clear correlation between what was growing on the property to the output,” Mr Smith said.
To be approved as a rural industry the development can only sell beer and wine grown and produced on the property.
Mr Smith said the development would target families and would include attractions such as a working team of Clydesdale horses, traditional horse-pulled beer delivery lorries and beer making demonstrations.
“It will be a little like Little Creatures, where you can look into the micro brewery,” he said.
Mr Smith said The Colonial Brewing Company would be developed with an Australiana style and hoped it would be operational by the end of the year.
The brewery will employ 24 full and part-time positions.
According to his market research Mr Smith expects to get 6000 people a month in the summer period and 4000 a month during winter.
“There is huge potential in this region, it is a powerhouse,” he said.
Mr Smith said he had found the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River planning office to be excellent.
“This council has a completely different view of things compared to the Shire of Busselton. The worst thing that can happen down here is overdevelopment,” he said.
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