For Dale Hunt, everything about Mounties Group boils down to one central idea: “We exist to improve the lives of our members.” Founded on that very principle in Mount Pritchard in 1964 by local residents looking to fill a gap in their community, from those humble beginnings, Mounties has evolved and expanded into a diverse network of nine social clubs across South Western Sydney, the Northern Beaches and the Central Coast.
“Other businesses might have a 250-page rulebook, but for us, it’s nice and simple: Family, Honesty, Care, Innovation, Fun and Loyalty,” Dale tells The CEO Magazine. “Those six rules are really what make us different. When we asked our members and staff what the most important things outside work are, these were their answers. So our business values and culture align with our own people.”
The Group now has more than 700 staff, each and every one of whom Dale believes is equally invested in its vision, manifesto and values. “It’s also about making sure that the people who you work with actually have those as their own values,” he says.
“All of our staff fit into the business through their own personal culture more than their skill set. We can teach aptitude, but we can’t teach attitude. We know why we exist. We don’t pretend. We don’t get lost, and we all follow that one thing every day we come to work.” This “simpler-the-better” approach of distilling everything down to one core purpose is a mindset that Dale employs across the board.
“We simplify everything we can because the simpler we can make it, the easier it is to deliver,” he says. “We have a really clear strategic direction and purpose, and then we also work really hard on our communication. I always say to our team, ‘If you can’t explain your job to a three-year-old so they can understand it, then you don’t understand it well enough yourself.’”
Equally integral to the success of Mounties is its strong network of like-minded suppliers, who Dale knows will be there even if the going gets tough – as it unfortunately did, during COVID-19. “Relationships in our industry aren’t just about who can get the best outcome today,” he insists.
“It is about win–win situations, so we get the best outcome for generations ahead. We want these guys on the journey with us for the next 56 years. The more successful our suppliers are, the more successful we are. By joining together, we can achieve more.”
Having been forced to close for three months during the COVID-19 lockdowns in New South Wales last year, Mounties had very little preparation time when it was allowed to reopen again. “Within a week we needed supplies, materials, everything to open the doors,” Dale says. “It couldn’t have been done without amazing suppliers, could it?”
The pandemic restrictions also meant that Mounties was forced to adapt its offerings, something Dale is grateful for. “We were able to pivot so quickly and do things that would have taken us a lot longer otherwise, because we were in a completely different mindset,” he explains.
“We started a new healthcare business in Mounties Care taking nursing services into our members’ homes. We made 10,000 welfare calls to over-70s to make sure they were OK. We ran online events and entertainment like raffles, trivia and bingo so members still felt part of the club and not isolated. We set up a food delivery service and recently opened two new play centres.”
Dale first joined the team at Mounties back in 2009 as Operations Manager for two years, before being promoted to General Manager, where he remained for another seven. Then, having been headhunted to join Blacktown Workers Club in 2018, just a year later Dale returned to the fold at Mounties, this time as Group CEO, where he has remained ever since.
Having already achieved so much with a multimillion dollar partnership with CareFlight and record contributions to the community, Dale has big future plans for Mounties. Its venues will continue to grow and the group will delve further into health and leisure. “We already own a specialist medical business with neurosurgeons and heart surgeons,” he shares.
“We’ll bring that closer to members in terms of affordability and services. We currently have over 160,000 members, and within two years, we’ll have over 200,000.” With that in mind, Dale is confident that as long as he continues employing staff whose values align with Mounties, then the only way is up.
“It’s important we always remember our purpose of improving the lives of our members,” he says. “If you can get your culture right and can always remember your purpose, then you can change lives for the better. The proudest thing for me is knowing the people I work with care for other people as much as I do.”
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