The UPco team is made up of all sorts of characters, and every one of them has a story. Here’s just one of them… and while he’s certainly not new to the business, he does happen to be our new Managing Director!

What’s your name, and your role at UPco?

Kel Twite. I’m a Director at UPco, and have recently stepped up as Managing Director.

You’re an urban planner now, but you didn’t grow up in the city, did you?

No, I’m a country boy from up the Murray! I grew up in Barooga, which is a little town of about a thousand people. I got into the planning thing when I started working as a trainee for local council, which had me studying my planning degree part time, but it was taking forever and I wanted to knock it off. So, I came to Melbourne and did a bit of work for what was then SJB, with Phil Borelli, while I completed the degree.

After I graduated, I went to work for Baw Baw Council for a year or so, then I hit up Phil for a job. I hadn’t planned to stay full time in the city – I only thought I’d be here for about six months! But I loved the lifestyle and ended up staying. I also met my wife, Sonia, around the same time… although funnily enough, she came from the same part of the world as me, just across the river. We’re proper townies now, although we did buy a farm together with my brother a few years ago.

I was going to ask how you spend your time off-duty – I’m guessing a fair bit of it is at the farm these days?

Yeah, it is. We farm wheat and canola, although my brother does most of the proper farming work! I’m more the Jeremy Clarkson type farmer – I wreck something on the weekends and come back to Melbourne.  We do love spending time there, especially to give the kids a taste of the kind of life I had growing up.

What was it like to be a kid in Barooga?

I grew up with a single mum, and I was always very active and outdoorsy. I was always out on my bike, fishing or playing footy. I think growing up in the country also makes you pretty resourceful and inventive… you’re left to your own devices a lot. You got a problem, you fix it. I think it’s very healthy.

What do you get up to back in the city?

A lot of kid duties at the moment – my two are aged 10 and 12, and they’re both into lots of different things. My daughter takes after my wife in that she’s quite arty, although she does play netball. My son is sport obsessed. He plays basketball in way too many teams and is addicted to training. He has it all mapped out, how he’s going to be in the states on a scholarship in a few years and then go pro… I have asked him if he’s noticed the height of both his parents! But it’s very hard not to support him, given how much passion and drive he has.

Another thing I really love is heading to the pub for a few drinks – I don’t get to do that as often as I used to, though! My favourite spot in Melbourne is the Spread Eagle Hotel in Richmond, because it’s still a real pub! And from time to time, you can also find me in my wife’s salon, Rhodes Hair & Spa, helping out with the behind the scenes stuff.

What’s been your most memorable UPco experience?

I can think of some Christmas parties that went down as being pretty memorable! Back in the day, when we were part of SJB, we used to do a big joint one with the architects and everyone else in the business. They’ve toned down a bit since then! Or maybe I have….

What’s the greatest adventure you’ve ever had?

I’m not sure about the greatest, but one of the most enjoyable adventures I’ve had was doing the Outback Car Trek, which is an annual car rally held in support of the Royal Flying Doctors. We started in Hay (in central west NSW) and went right across the country – through South Australia to Northern Territory, via the Oodnadatta Track. And eight days later, we finished up on Hamilton Island. I did it in an old Holden HR with a few mates, and it was fantastic.

What’s your secret superpower?

I reckon my superpower is my memory. I’m like a filing cabinet, especially for obscure things like job numbers and tribunal court decisions from 20 years ago.

What’s your favourite building in the world?

I really like the Colosseum. You go there and it’s just incredible. This thing is SO OLD. And people built it by hand, thousands of years ago. The Italians have really had concrete figured out for a long time!

Finally, what’s one thing that’s high on your bucket list?

I want to do an Ashes Tour, heading over to the UK so I can watch all five matches. And if my wife comes, the trip will have to integrate five weeks of shopping, too.

Thanks for the chat, Kel – always a pleasure. And Sonia, sounds like some European retail therapy is on the cards for you… we’ve got it in writing!