New chief brings commercial edge

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Trent and Kelly Kensett-Smith with two of their three sons, Mitch, 8, and Nate, 5, at Narrogin.
Camera IconTrent and Kelly Kensett-Smith with two of their three sons, Mitch, 8, and Nate, 5, at Narrogin. Credit: Cally Dupe

WAFarmers’ new chief executive Trent Kensett-Smith says he feels both excited and welcome after his first week at the helm.

The former Koch Fertilisers State manager spent his first five days at WAFarmers last week, immersed in agriculture at the IGA Perth Royal Show.

It was the perfect introduction to an organisation he told Countryman was “so important” to the State’s vibrant agricultural sector.

“There was a lot of listening, watching and talking to people at the show,” Mr Kensett-Smith said.

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“It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with those in the industry, some of those that I already know, but now in a new role.”

Mr Kensett-Smith and his family have called Narrogin home for the past eight years after he took on a management role at Elders Narrogin in 2009.

The family, wife Kelly and the couple’s three sons, Jack, 11, Mitch, 8, and Nate, 5, plan to permanently relocate to Perth by Christmas.

Mr Kensett-Smith said until then, he would live in Perth during the week and return to Narrogin at weekends, unless required for duty at WAFarmers.

The new chief said the organisation planned to expand its WAFarmersFirst brand, which so far includes milk and eggs, and honey.

“It’s something we have spoken about, the paddock to plate mentality — there is a real foodie mentality in general at the moment,” he said. “There is opportunity to capitalise on that — it’s one of those things that while the iron is hot, strike.

“We are looking at new product lines but the important part about it is it is WA produce, locally produced, and WA-packaged and marketed.”

Mr Kensett-Smith said his key focus initially would be to listen and learn, to build the team environment and collaborate with farmers.

“Being able to have an impact across the agricultural sector, that was very appealing to me,” he said.

“To be part of a team that has the opportunity to influence so much ... for the benefit of so many people, that is exciting.

“I would love agriculture to have more of a unified voice ... to have a unified voice to take to the ministers would be fantastic.”

Originally from Griffith, New South Wales, Mr Kensett-Smith grew up on a rice, sheep and cattle farm 30km from the town.

He said his passion for agriculture carried through his adult life after studying agribusiness at University of Sydney.

Mr Kensett-Smith first moved to WA in 2001 to take up a position in Esperance and has since worked at Merredin, Dalwallinu, Kalannie and Hyden.

Before taking on the chief executive role at WAFarmers, he worked as the State manager of Koch Fertilisers until the company withdrew from WA in February.

The family also spent two years in Melbourne, between 2007 and 2009, when Mr Kensett-Smith took up a senior role with Landmark.

While the pastoral industry and agri-politics is relatively new to Mr Kensett-Smith, he said he hoped to bring commercial experience to the role.

“The role came up and a few people suggested it to me,” he said.

“I put my hand up, honestly not expecting to get it.

“I hadn’t had a lot to do with agri-politics full-stop, and I almost feel that is what part of the appeal ... to have a commercial background.”

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