Ambassador fell in love with river and valley

THE Manning Valley's Australia Day ambassador is Howard Croker, founder and owner of Croker Oars on Oxley Island.

Howard, a successful rower in the 1960s who won both State and national rowing titles, later coached at The Scots College.

His sons, management and staff at the production facility on Oxley Island produce sculling and sweep oars for the Australian and international market, in addition to surf boat oars.

"We chose the Manning Valley in 1977 as a great place to relocate our business, which had been running in Sydney since 1962," said Howard.

"It was a natural choice for us, as we had been up here holidaying for years and we fell in love with the river and the valley."

The property on the Manning River is ideally located, with easy river access to test out the latest designs.

With a wide variety of machinery and equipment required to produce the oars, the factory floor is one long production line with dozens of different specialty equipment, moulds, ovens and laser devices.

With over two-thirds of their products exported, Howard is uniquely placed to understand the contrasts between life in Australia, and that in the rest of the world.

He has travelled extensively to Olympic Games, major sporting events, and to meet with clients around the world.

"When I talk with clients from overseas, whether it is South Korea, Canada or Romania, they all have the impression that Australia is a great country with great people.

"This is the impression that we have on the world, and it is one I agree with.

"We do face challenges as a small business here on the Mid North Coast as do many small businesses.

"But we are a proud Australian company and very proud to be here in the Manning Valley."

Howard spends his mornings rowing on the Manning River and in the family business at "Remo" the Oxley Island property.

He has been known to go the extra mile to assist youth in their bids to become rowing champions.

"I was surprised to be asked to be Australia Day ambassador," he said.

"It will be an honour to address the Manning Valley community on Sunday, I am looking forward to the big day."

The ceremony at the Manning Entertainment Centre, including the address by Howard, begins at 9am on Australia Day, this Sunday.

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