Our four owner-directors – local growers themselves, have more than 180 years’ combined experience as irrigation farmers and business owners. Together, they take an active role in the day-to-day managements of Southern Cotton.
They have built a strong reputation as exceptional operators and have a deep understanding of the Southern Valleys cotton community. Each brings different skill sets and experiences to Southern Cotton.
Larry Walsh (Chairman)
Larry Walsh is the general manager of Larry Walsh Pty Ltd, a company he founded in 1982. The company began as a transport business and later diversified into fertilizer sales and distribution – which is now in a partnership with Elders Rural Merchandise.
In partnership, Larry has built the fourth ethanol plant in Australia, has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course and is a director on the Kararbury Channel.
His farming operation began in 2001 with a rice farm in Coleambally. Today, the business grows 1200 hectares of irrigated cotton and 1000 hectares of dry land cereals. Larry employs 10 full-time staff, including three of his children.
Scott Hogan is the owner of a 2150-hectare irrigation farming business. Scott is a fourth-generation food and fibre producer and built an ethanol plant with Larry Walsh at Coleambally.
With an advanced Certificate in Irrigation and an Advanced Diploma in Agriculture, Scott graduated from an Australian Institute of Company Directors course in 2010. He is the current President at Coleambally Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) branch, and holds a number of other positions at the RGA central executive, including the water committee.
Roger and Tim Commins
Brothers Roger and Tim Commins are directors of Commins Enterprises, a dynamic farming and manufacturing company located near Whitton NSW. Established in 1989, the farming business has been adapted with changing technology and market trends. The business services a farming area of 3800 hectares with crops including cotton, rice, maize, seed sunflowers and winter cereals.
The pair head up a diversified business, which includes a 350-hectare hardwood eucalyptus plantation, a wine tank and storage facility, hydroponic seedless mandarin plantation (joint business), and ethanol plant. Commins Enterprises currently employs 24 full-time staff across its business streams.
We pride ourselves on providing growers with the highest level of expertise. Our management team has over 120 years’ combined agricultural industry management experience.
Kate O'Callaghan is the general manager of Southern Cotton, and has 30 years’ experience in agribusiness and agricultural research. On a day-to-day basis, Kate runs Southern Cotton’s financial, logistical, contract and production management, as well as leading a team of 12 permanent staff and more than 40 seasonal casuals.
Recognised as one of Australia's top 100 Women in Australian Agribusiness in 2014, Kate heads up the liaison and negotiations with growers, and represents Southern Cotton at Cotton Australia.
She is passionate about locals and visitors understanding the quality, sustainability and excellence of agriculture in the region. Kate represents the cotton industry as a speaker in many forums.
Chris Veness, Gin Manager
With over 30 years' experience in cotton ginning and a passion for all-things cotton, Chris is a natural-born workaholic who oversees the ins and outs of the gin 24 hours a day. Chris and the ginning team provide engineering and cotton ginning solutions, maintenance expertise, troubleshooting and capital upgrades, while working diligently towards annual improved efficiencies. Our expert ginning team has over 75 years' combined cotton ginning experience across some of the top gins in Australia.
Melissa Dufty, Site and Cotton Seed Manager
Joining the Southern Cotton team in 2018, Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in grain logistics. A local cotton grower herself, Mel oversees the day-to-day running of the site, out loading of seed and seed logistics management.
John Durham, Farm Manager
John is the manager of the Coleambally based Southern Cotton farming operation. With 14 years of experience in growing cotton and a long history in family and corporate farming, John leads the team on the myBMP-accredited property “Tubbo Irrigation”.
John is passionate about the cotton industry and is the current chair of the Southern Valleys Cotton Grower Association along with being a grower representative at the Cotton Australia and Cotton Research and Development Corporation general meetings. He holds an Advanced Diploma in Farm Business Management and is currently a participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program – Course 25.
Phil Tozer, Warehouse Manager
Phil heads up the Southern Cotton warehousing team. He oversees the operations of 10 forklift drivers, and is responsible for ensuring bales are efficiently loaded into containers while still on trucks. Fast turnaround times are achieved, thanks to his expertise. Phil has worked at Southern Cotton for the past six years. He is also a qualified fitter and assists with machinery maintenance in the off season.
Ben Bagust, Operations and Data Analyst
As one of our Authorised Officers (AO), Ben liaises with rail and export companies to facilitate a fast and economical path from gin to port. He translates data into plain English, to help Southern Cotton to continually improve efficiencies. Ben grew up in England, where he completed tertiary studies in environmental science.
Matthew Pete, Grower Communications Liaison and Data Analyst
Starting as a trainee on a gap year in 2018, Matt now supports growers on a daily basis by processing their picker data, managing module logistics and scheduling gin runs. Matt prides himself on providing an individualised service for each of our growers.
Sharing Kate O'Callaghan’s enthusiasm for educating locals and the many visitors at Southern Cotton, Matt leads the daily gin tours. Matt is currently studying a Bachelor of Business by distance, and is enjoying juggling a balance of work and study.
Jeanette Veness, Accounts
Joining the team at Southern Cotton in 2016, Jeanette manages the accounts department. With many years’ experience up her sleeve, Jeanette has held numerous positions at cotton gins across New South Wales.
Her exceptional organisational skills and efficiency underpins the smooth operations of the accounts team over the course of the ginning season.
Dudley Dunbar, Freight Coordinator
As the freight coordinator, Dudley organises the transport of bales from other gins in the Southern Valleys to be warehoused at our state-of-the-art warehousing facility, which has the capacity to store up to 50000 bales. He joined the team at Southern Cotton in 2017, prior to the opening of the warehousing facilities in 2018.