The prospect of an inter-state tree change is as daunting as it is thrilling. But coupled with the commencement of a start-up business, and stress levels rise. Coincide this with the pending birth of a baby, and things could easily spiral out of control.
But for Mel and Matt Neary, their move from Brisbane to Armidale to embark on a lifelong dream never lost its shine, thanks to Invest Blue advisers Geoff Murray and Anthony Lyons.
Mel, an Invest Blue employee and shareholder, knew first hand that embarking on such a significant change would need financial organisational precision for a smooth transition.
“My commute to work in Brisbane was almost an hour each way, and with Matt working in horticulture we love the outdoors and both shared a dream to get out of the city and own our own business,” Mel explains, ‘but it was not a decision taken lightly.”
With her sister and brother-in-law based in the New England, an opportunity to lease part of their property arose, and their first port of call was Invest Blue.
“Matt’s passion has been to raise free range pastured chickens, and the 50 acres on offer in the Kentucky district out of Armidale, provided the perfect site.”
“The first thing we did was sit down with both Geoff, one of Invest Blue’s lending managers, and our Invest Blue financial planner, Anthony.”
“Our initial priority was whether we had enough equity if we sold our house in Brisbane to support our family, which also included four-year-old Emmie, plus a start-up business.
“We decided to do some renovations in preparation of selling our home, and no sooner were we pregnant, so the fact that I would have to take maternity leave was also a consideration.”
“But it was so reassuring having Geoff and Anthony support us at every step – Anthony from a financial point of view, reassuring us we could afford these changes, and Geoff from a lifestyle point of view – supporting us as a family and taking care of all our lending and banking needs.”
After almost 12 months of planning, renovations and a pregnancy, the Neary’s put their home on the market in October, 2017, with it selling in early December.
And Mel firmly believes that having Geoff as their advocate saved an enormous amount of stress.
“We were selling and buying though the Christmas season, and needed the sale all signed off before the holiday close period – Geoff did an amazing job getting everything through and signed off on, and the process was totally seamless.”
“He knows his way around a tight deadline and specialises in communicating with the banks to get things done timely and efficiently – it could have been very stressful, but Geoff took control and it was one less thing we had to worry about.”
The family spent their first night in their new Armidale home on New Year’s Eve, ready to embrace 2018 and all the new adventures it promised.
With a mobile chicken caravan purchased by Matt, the couple bought their first flock of chickens eight weeks ago, with baby daughter Quinn born just three weeks later.
“It’s been a whirlwind, but despite being a bit sleep deprived, we’re settling into country life beautifully.”
“I love how close everything is, I will be able to go to a pre-school morning tea for Emmie without having to take half a day off work, I can be home from the office in less than five minutes which means more precious family time, and the community has been so friendly and welcoming.”
Mel admits the labour needs of the chickens has been huge, with Matt collecting eggs every day and moving the caravan every few days, but it was ‘so far, so good’.
“It has been a very big learning curve – including Matt having to physically try to teach the chickens to lay in the caravan – they were laying all over the paddock which made for some mad egg collecting!”
And being part of a smaller community had been unexpectedly beneficial to their business, Little Paddock Pastured Eggs.
“We’ve already secured suppliers for our free range pastured eggs in Armidale, Uralla, Kentucky and Walcha – it’s been much easier than we thought – word of mouth spreads quickly and everyone wants to see us succeed, which is lovely.”
The couple now has plans to expand their operation by introducing a second rotating flock to ensure a consistent egg supply.
With so much change in their lives, Mel was grateful that one element remained consistent, and that was her employment with Invest Blue.
“I’ve been with Invest Blue for 11 years now, originally as a Client Support Officer and more recently as an Office Support Manager.”
“My transfer from the Brisbane office to the Armidale office was so straightforward and made the move that much easier.
Despite the different postcodes, the culture within each office never changes – I was greeted with a warm hug, and it’s lovely to have that familiarity across the company. Invest Blue really is like family,” Mel smiles.
Describing her previous Client Services role as ‘helping dreams come true’ by implementing client’s financial plans, she equally loves her current Office Support Manager position.
“I get to provide training and conduct office visits where we can work together to achieve improved efficiencies – everyone is on the same page, all our employees are passionate about Invest Blue and just want what is best for the business and our clients.”
“There were 20 employees when I first started, now there are over 70, but the ethos and feel of the business has never wavered.”
“Personally, there is no way we would have been in a position to start up Little Paddock Pastured Eggs if we hadn’t worked closely with Invest Blue all those years ago in securing our first home – Anthony has been putting our financial building blocks in place since the beginning and we’re forever grateful for his insights.”
This confidence in the company inspired Mel to become a shareholder two years ago.
“I had wanted to be a shareholder in Invest Blue for a really long time, finally in recent years we were in a financial position to commit and did not hesitate when the opportunity arose.”
“It is such a pleasure to now be a shareholder in a company I genuinely admire and believe in.”
“I get to watch Invest Blue build relationships and help clients’ attain their goals and dreams every day – there’s nothing better.”
“An early retirement, a home, even a long wished for holiday – it’s so nice helping people, and it’s really heartening knowing they’re being provided with the absolute best advice they can to achieve their goals.”
Follow Mel and Matt’s journey at @little_paddock_pastured_eggs
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