Meat industry stalwart reflects on long innings

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
This photo shows how Linley Valley's 457 visa holder program helped many people from overseas make a life in Australia as permanent residents with jobs at the company and a higher standard of education for their children.
Camera IconThis photo shows how Linley Valley's 457 visa holder program helped many people from overseas make a life in Australia as permanent residents with jobs at the company and a higher standard of education for their children.

Meat industry stalwart Ron Penn remembers his achievements after announcing he is stepping down as Linley Valley Pork general manager next year.

Mr Penn has already handed the reins to the former director of operations at Inghams, Peter Spackman, who will now be responsible for the turn-off of 4500 pigs at LVP’s Woorooloo abattoir each week, and 90,000 pigs on the ground at any given time over the company’s three breeder farms and eight contract growing partnerships.

Mr Penn joined the meat industry with Lee Bros Export in 1962, followed by Derby Industries in Derby in 1971.

He worked in Durban, South Africa, for Orchid Foods (Bull Brand), where he managed the cannery, boning and wholesale operations for three years before taking a two-year contract with Botswana Meat Commission as the boning room supervisor. He was promoted to assistant works manager after six months.

In 1979, Mr Penn returned to WA with his family in 1979 and joined Metro Meats then Watson Foods, Prota Pet Meat before joining Craig Mostyn in late 1998 and being promoted to Linley Valley site manager the next year.

Craig Mostyn Group chief executive Patrick Walsh said Mr Penn had been a quite achiever responsible for Linley Valley’s extraordinary growth.

“His success has been a combination of growing more pigs and overseeing several phases of critically important infrastructure upgrades at the abattoir over the years, which has allowed the business to expand,” he said. “He has overseen improvements to the manufacturing lines and animal welfare, as well as value-adding with increased boning room throughput.”

Mr Penn said he was proud of his leadership that drove the fledgling pork processor 18 years ago to become today the biggest supplier of pork to Singapore.

He said his vision was to be the best producer of pork in Australia, through animal welfare, supply and quality.

“When we started we were processing about 5000 pigs a month but increased that number substantially when we bought the Linley Valley abattoir from WAMMCO in 2002,” he said.

“Last week, we processed more than 16,000 for the week. I believe people like the WA product because it conforms to high animal welfare standards, is hormone free and free range.”

Mr Penn said he was also proud to have been able to assist children of the company’s migrant workers.

“The 457 visa workers helped to make our business more competitive on world markets, but another positive outcome from that was many children educated in WA while their parents worked for us are now entering university to study for a variety of professions,” he said.

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