TEAM MEMBER STORIES – KARL COPE
When newly appointed CEO Karl Cope looks to the future of Active Tree Services, he sees opportunity ahead.
He believes the business is uniquely positioned to build on its history, its established reputation as a leader in the field, and its key strength as a workforce comprised of genuine people with down-to-earth values.
“I think there is great opportunity to continue Active’s journey from a small family business into a powerhouse in the industry,” he reflects.
“We are a company that has built an excellent reputation over more than 40 years. We are well known and recognised for our work and our ability, and there is no shortage of growth opportunities”
When Karl talks growth he has an innate understanding of exactly how that occurs. Before he joined Active in the role of Chief Financial Officer in 2018, he had 20-years’ experience in Australian publicly-listed companies.
His previous titles include Chief Financial Officer of transport group Scott Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of trade services directory hipages, and Chief Financial Officer of the automotive auction-focused Auto Group.
It’s an extensive career which has also seen him spend considerable time in chartered accountancy roles, but he notes contract-based industries are among his favoured arenas.
It was this which drew him to Active a little over 12 months ago when Human Resources manager Tom Hearne approached him to fill an executive role.
“In a previous life Tom and I worked together at Scott Corporation. When Tom went to Active we kept in touch and he sounded me out for the position of Chief Financial Officer.
“Active reminded me a lot of my transport days. Essentially, it’s a contract based business combining labour expertise and innovative machinery to executive service delivery in a B2B environment.
“During the recruitment process I had also met Jim Roberts and John Tolmie and felt confident this was a company that lived by certain values which I could relate to.”
In the 12 months Karl has been with Active, he has seized the opportunity to get to know people within the business as well as key clients.
“The industry is so much more complex than many people realise and that challenge has been really enjoyable,” he reflects.
“I love the people in the business. Everybody is so genuine and down to earth. I also respect Active’s altruistic nature that sees 10 per cent of profits going directly to charity to be reinvested in the community.”
Charity and community are key themes which resonate with Karl.
He was born in Darwin a year before Cyclone Tracy but was raised in Byron Bay after the family were relocated where he still has community ties.
“Dad was in the navy,” Karl explains. “We were posted in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy hit on Christmas Eve and our house didn’t survive. Dad stayed to help with the rebuild but the families were flown to Coolangatta, and we resettled in Byron Bay where my mother was born and raised.
“I still have a close connection with the township and along with a school mate, own a surf shop there.”
These days Karl resides in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Newtown with his wife Emma and their two children – Mitchell who is 14, and Madeline, aged 11.
Karl notes both are keen cricketers and it’s a love of sport they share with their dad. Karl is a stalwart supporter of the Newtown Jets Rugby League Football Club and serves as director of their board. It’s a subject he discusses with obvious enthusiasm.
“The Newtown Jets is the oldest rugby league club in Australia,” he notes.
“They’ve enjoyed a very successful season this year which sees them currently rank as the best second tier rugby league team in the country.”
In addition to his role with the Newtown Jets, Karl is also a passionate advocate for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.
The charity funds essential and often life-saving medical equipment for sick and injured children in hospitals across Australia. He and Emma are benefactors, with Karl explaining it’s a cause close to their heart based on personal experience.
But for now, Karl’s current focus is the future of Active. He recently assumed the position of CEO after 12 months working closely with Jim Roberts.
“I’m loving it,” he reflects. “I feel incredibly grateful, humbled and honoured to be given the opportunity and it’s a position I take very seriously. It’s also one which I will do everything I can to help us all succeed.
“Our purpose as a business is to keep communities safe and green. Every day we need to do that better, but I’ve met so many people across this business and found without exception they are passionate about this business and equally passionate about the arboriculture industry.”