Rockhampton’s 50 Most Influential people: Number 8
Like 'em, love 'em or "never heard of 'em", these are your locals who strive to make Rockhampton a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Some of them were born here and some of them moved here to make the most of the family-friendly facilities, opportunities for employment or to spend more time with their extended families.
Whether they're a community leader or someone working hard behind the scenes, we think you'll be surprised how humble and grateful our Fifty Most Influential are.
Number 8: GRANT CASSIDY
It's difficult to remember a time Rockhampton's riverside skyline wasn't dominated by Grant Cassidy's 'sister' apartment hotels, the Edge and the Empire.
But driving around the region, you'll pass numerous other business he bought and sold since 2002 - the Coffee House, the Glenmore Palms and Motel 98.
Mr Cassidy acquired his business acumen over many years in radio sales and announcing; a move up from Brisbane in 1984 saw him endlessly driving the triangle between Gladstone, Rockhampton and Biloela.
"I learned so much about being part of a community from meeting the people in those towns, and it inspired me and demonstrated the importance to give back," he said.
"My manager Noel Roberts really laid the foundation in terms of community involvement during my early days in the region."
In addition to running his two hotels which between them have over 220 rooms and Empire having won an impressive Four Gold and Four Silver Queensland Tourism Awards since opening, Mr Cassidy serves on numerous representative bodies including the Rockhampton Salvos Red Shield Appeal committee, Beef Australia, and the Regional Development Australia board for Central and Western Queensland.
While he concedes he was not very focussed on academic achievements during his childhood in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Mr Cassidy grew up in a family environment which valued hard work and determination.
"To me, leadership is about creating relationships of loyalty, respect and trust," he said.
"It's not about someone banging on their big drum and making a lot of noise about themselves."
It's an ethos which was sorely tested following 'Black Friday', the second week of March 2020 when Covid-19 restrictions took a sudden and massive toll on Central Queensland's tourism and hospitality operators.
He admits to a "few sleepless nights" as his hotels lost a million dollars worth of business in just one week.
"I've always been able to quickly identify a situation that needs to be dealt with and make decisions," Mr Cassidy said.
"You can't procrastinate with business decisions when time is of the essence.
"My main focus was having those conversations with my staff, this tremendous team we've built."
While overhauling his budgets and operating model, Mr Cassidy said he was grateful for the flow of information coming from the National Cabinet and the Chief Medical Officer.
"There's nothing we would or could have done differently in the face of such an unexpected crisis," he said.
"Central Queensland's best years are still in front of us."
He remains passionate about creating opportunities for Rockhampton and Gladstone to work closer in harnessing and complementing each other's industrial strengths. Mr Cassidy is also a Director on the Gladstone Ports Corporation Board.
In particular, he'd like to see an inland rail system from Toowoomba to Gladstone - to link directly with the Melbourne rail project - and a dual lane highway all the way from Rockhampton to Gladstone.
He's also desperate to see the rebirth of Great Keppel Island and the old Capricorn Resort.
"We've got terrific tourist operators with world-class facilities on offer who are missing out because we don't have those few big products that hundreds of thousands of tourists are chasing," he said.
"For me, it's a nice balance between running the family business I love and getting out there, engaging with other people about how to make the whole region that bit better off."
In accepting an Order of Australia medal in 2018, Mr Cassidy said he couldn't have grown the family business into the award-winning tourist drawcard it is today, without the support for his wife and family.
"Thomas literally, yesterday, pressed go on his final thesis for his commerce/law degree, and Catherine's making her way in the fashion industry," said the proud father.
"They may not live here right now but Rockhampton is still theirs to come home to."
Number 7 will be revealed at 3pm Friday 03 July.