AFTER a two-year break, the Elders Past Employees Association (EPEA) returned to its old stomping ground at RAAFA Club, Bull Creek, for its annual Christmas lunch on Monday.
A total of 71 former staff members, including several new members of the EPEA, made the journey from across the State to share a bit of festive season cheer with former colleagues.
The smiles on their faces and animated conversations reflected their joy in reliving old times, sharing updates on family members and compatriots unable to make Monday's event and also putting their spin on current day events.
Members of the Elders team in attendance as special guests were State general manager WA and EPEA patron Nick Fazekas, State livestock and wool manager and EPEA vice-patron Dean Hubbard, State marketing business partner Tatum Patteson and administration officer to State general manager Riley Jones.
EPEA chairman Garry Dunstan said Elders continued to provide considerable support, both financial and in kind, for EPEA events for which his members were extremely grateful.
Many in the room wished they were still in the industry when Mr Fazekas gave an update on the 182-year-old company's activities in the past 12 months, especially in light of the outstanding livestock, grain, real estate and other commodity prices coupled with low interest rates which is "assisting with greater profitability for growers".
"You will have seen our end of financial year results posted recently ($151.1 million net profit after tax, up 40 per cent, for the year ended September 30)," Mr Fazekas said.
"Two measures we use internally are EBIT - which was up 38pc - and ROC (return on capital) achieving 22.5pc.
"Our share price is currently $11.20, which is up about $1 on this time last year and we paid a dividend of 42 cents.
"Elders is again rated the number one most trusted agricultural brand in Australia and you have all been part of our growth and this brand history.
"Through growth and acquisition we have more than 3000 properties under management in our real estate business, which continue to earn irrespective of weather events such as drought, fire and flood.
"With regards to staffing we employ 340 people based at 45 locations across the State and are in the process of putting on nine trainees, three in agronomy, three in livestock and three in merchandise, to get more feet on farms and assist with serving our clients' needs.
"There are a few potential acquisitions we are looking at and we are set to open a new stand-alone branch at Muchea in February, so our future plans are positive," Mr Fazekas.
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