Jun 19 2018

Narellan was wise choice

Matt means business: Matt Leighton (front) surrounded by representatives of the Narellan Chamber of Commerce after he received life membership to the organisation.MATT Leighton remembers what business in Narellan was like before the Town Centre and industrial area were there.

“This was all vacant land,” he said speaking outside the 18-year-old Narellan Town Centre.

“There was a little shopping centre with a fruit and vegie market and a pine timber shop — that was all.

“I’ve seen a lot of change take place. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.”

A founder of the Narellan Chamber of Commerce, Mr Leighton, OAM, was recently presented with life membership to the organisation — the first person in the local chamber’s history to do so.

The former president for 24 years said he was was humbled by the recognition.

“It’s an absolute honour that came totally out of the blue,” he said. “I wasn’t aware they were going to do this.

“It’s a magnificent gesture from the chamber and the chamber members.”

Mr Leighton set up his tyre business in Narellan in November 1977.

It was considered an odd decision from friends who suggested he move to Camden instead.

But the 75-year-old thought Narellan would be a better location to help his business stay afloat.

“I said Camden is virtually flood-bound and it can’t expand too far because of the flood plains so the natural progression will be to go to the high ground,” he said.

“I was the only commercial building in the area other than S&M Fox.”

Mr Leighton witnessed the change on his doorstep.

But he predicted with the number of housing estates and the population increase, the town would continue to evolve at a rapid rate.

“I’ve been here 36 years and one of the first things I had to do was allow the RTA to buy some frontage on my block of land so they could create a dual carriageway,” he said. “The whole area has actually grown at a steady process and what you see in the next five years will exceed what has taken place in the last 10.”

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