Our Team

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes

Chief Executive Officer

Steve brings an extensive background in the Australian and international fresh food industry to his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Tipper Group.  Commercially astute and a practiced leader, Steve is experienced in managing and mentoring diverse teams, strategic planning and implementation, international trade, financial management, and corporate governance.

Steve’s in-depth knowledge of the rapidly evolving food industry from a domestic and global perspective expedites Tropical Fruit Direct’s response to ‘paddock-to-plate’ opportunities and helps forge effective partnerships throughout the supply chain.  He has developed export opportunities to 18 countries and is skilled in identifying and developing new domestic and international markets.

As a former business owner in the hospitality and retail food sector, Steve appreciates the need to remain responsive and innovative to meet market demands, putting customer service at the heart of all initiatives.

 

Ian MacLaughlin

Ian MacLaughlin

Director

Ian is a Director of Tropical Fruit Direct Pty Ltd and Skybury Pty Ltd. Following a successful military career in Rhodesia and Oman, and corporate roles in the UK, Ian was drawn to farming in Australia. He established the Skybury farming business in 1987. Skybury is a diverse business growing coffee, papaya, and other topical fruits. Skybury is also involved in agricultural research and tourism, employing around 80 full time staff.

Ian remains hands-on in the business, having the responsibility for Skybury’s nutrient and water management programs, research, business analysis, planning and budgets. Ian believes that farmers should enjoy transactional transparency for goods sold and enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with their supply partners.

Sean Russell

Sean Russell

Director

Sean has committed over half his life to supporting the agricultural industry, in a variety of fresh fruit categories. Sean has also supported various grower industry boards helping with marketing and varietal development, as well as consulting on R&D projects from new technology to export opportunities.
Sean has a genuine passion for fresh Australian produce and understands that challenges and opportunities faced by growers. Sean believes that growers should be central to consumer engagement, which in turn drives sales and customer loyality, as well as delivering value for retailers. Sean’s drive and passion for the industry has lead him to becoming a founding Director of Tropical Fruit Direct.

 

Candy MacLaughlin

Candy MacLaughlin

General Manager - Skybury

Candy is General Manager of Skybury and her primary role is the production and facilitation of sales through Tropical Fruit Direct. The oldest of three siblings, Candy returned to the family business to oversee the day to day operations of the Skybury, including Papaya production and quality. Candy provides support to the Skybury Management team and as well as having responsibility for day to day coordination with our marketing operations at Tropical Fruit Direct and its retail/wholesale partners.

Candy has a degree with honours in Communication and Design and has worked both in the UK and Australia. Her most dynamic role to date was with QLD corrections where she spent 7 years as a Custodial Officer, in a maximum-security all male jail. Candy lives on the farm with her husband
Paul, and three children.