Claude Lombard’s life story reads like a who’s who of Victorian business, but he is a man who seeks little recognition for his tireless work in both the business and philanthropic communities. Described by his supporters as a ‘behind the scenes’ man – Claude is seen as an iconic mover and shaker around Melbourne, quietly going about the task of ensuring that Melbourne is seen in the best and most advantageous light, by anyone who cares to listen, determined that local businesses and business communities are supported from within their own ranks.
Alongside this community work he has been building his forty year old family business into a formidable stable of Australia’s best known paper, packaging, party and merchandising houses.
Claude has made huge inroads into the community through his determination to make the public feel included in all special event celebrations. In 1989, during pre-season for the Spring Racing carnival, he recommended that Melbourne’s special event decorations be distributed throughout the community, so that everyone had an opportunity to display with pride their bunting, posters, flags and banners. “It was really inspiring to see people become so excited, just to be included in these events, in what really was a very basic gesture on my part” says Claude. This gesture marked the unveiling of a totally new market in Australia, with the Grand Prix and the AFL amongst many major events to embrace the concept. While growing his stable of national outlets and his international distribution chain, Claude was also reaching world first milestones, establishing his business as the first ever, in the history of the Olympic Games, to solely supply an entire Olympic event, it’s visitors, and the entire community with the complete ‘package’ of decorations, packaging and toiletries – a huge logistical feat in itself that saw 120 million products sold across 30 days. In the year 1999, 1 in every 10 Australians purchased a Lombard party product to welcome in the new Millennium.
The last 20 years have also seen Claude champion the cause of special needs students from a local school through his support, via hands on work and also training opportunities at Lombard. This is one of the few charitable causes actually admitted to by this man who rarely turns down a charity’s request. He is also passionate about his sports with fencing, body building, motor sports (as the owner of a 1967, 400hp Cobra) and now boxing, sharing his attentions.
Claude is often called on by the media as the voice of Victoria’s grass roots businesses, recognised as a man who has never lost sight of his original plan – he knows what the Australian business owner thinks and how they perform in a world overflowing with challenges. He is a member of Rotary and was a board member for Melbourne Tourism Authority. Numerous public speaking appearances over many years see Claude extolling the virtues of business ownership and include motivational support through his formulas for making the right business decisions and believing in your ‘core purpose’, for overall business success.
Claude’s own life challenge would have had to have been the destruction of his national head office and warehouse in 2004 – one of Victoria’s largest ever fires. He managed to steer his staff through the incredible maze that resulted from this devastation – within 1.1/2 hours he was back in business planning the company’s new beginnings including a huge warehousing facility and office complex. The new development was entirely designed by Claude to both house the business and take it forward beyond the new Millennium, allowing it to continue as one of Australia’s most significant suppliers of party, packaging and event products.