Q&A: A dip into the meals industry the recipe for achievement for a family business

 Q&A: A dip into the meals industry the recipe for achievement for a family business

This week we chat to Max Schofield, owner, alongsidse his wife Fiona, of
Fresh Fodder – a family-owned and operated dip manufacturer located in Orange, New
South Wales.

MS: As a child, one of my fondest memories is working in my father's deli serving customers on the Saturday morning. In fact, the deli was at between a brothel and a pawn shop! I'd have been about nine or 10 at the time, and I loved the interaction. We'd take home stories from the deli and sit round the table at home eating and discussing business, new ideas and family and friends. Being included in these conversations and decisions inspired me to construct my own business later in life. And of course, it had to be in food! The recipes we use at Fresh Fodder are those that my father created, most of which he wrote whilst running the deli.

MS: There were many challenges for the business in
the first days. We were constantly underfunded and every time we strove for
growth we were spending cash we did not have. It had been also difficult to get out
there and drive growth when i was caught in the day-to-day operations of the
business. We slowly overcame these challenges by constantly talking to people
in and around the industry. Through asking plenty of questions, we found
government funding, and we partnered with consultants who helped us understand
areas of the business we did not have experience of so that we could make
informed decisions.

MS: Right now we employ approximately 25 people in the local community, and we are always challenging our staff to go beyond their comfort zone to locate better ways of doing business. This leads to staff building their skills for future challenges, whether that be around us or the next opportunity in everyday life. We also look to collaborate along with other business whereby we can leverage each-other's strengths whilst developing a bigger “splash” in terms of PR and sales for the region. Working with local organisations like Orange 360 helps you to drive more awareness of the Orange area and in turn helps build our brand. We also donate to the local Food Care whenever we have surplus stocks of end product and ingredients. Having said all the above, we want to give back more to our community, and we are currently brainstorming different ways to do this.

MS: We used this time to delve deeply into the business and irradicate
waste. Firstly, we looked at staff and how we could better secure their
positions. The decission was taken that staff who were across all departments were more
valuable to the business moving forward. We therefore trained our people across
multiple departments so that we could redeploy people depending on the need. We
then looked at product rationalisation. Which products in our range were adding
value to the business and which were not. We discovered we had a very long tail
that needed trimming. Finally, we checked out our suppliers, especially in terms
of was looking after us and who was not. It is important for us to do business
with those who have similar values and resolve for a quality, Australian-made

MS: We have invested heavily in plant and equipment
in 2021 and this has given us three times the capacity moving forward. Our
vision for the next three years has not changed from the beginning: to become a
household name in premium, authentic, mediterranean dips and spreads. Within the
next couple of years we are working towards having our products stocked more
widely and building stronger brand awareness.

MS: Build a team of people around you who learn more than you do and
empower these to innovate to become a little bit better every single day. It is the
people who are committed who are around you that will be instrumental in you realising
the ideal.

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