Ten years ago, my wife and I were sitting in our car, tearing up the highway, our destination the Byron Shire.
We’d packed everything into cardboard, broken family heirlooms in the process and watched while our worldly goods were stacked high in a truck bound for the rainbow country.
Taking a break from our chosen careers, the family cat on my lap, wife at the wheel, we spent the entire journey toing and froing business ideas that perhaps we’d take to market (literally) to make a quid. We arrived with our luggage, a ‘cool’ business name and a new commodity to sell to the local community – apparently.
After some time flogging a dead business we realised that we hadn’t chosen a winner. The product name was quirky, the product was sound and the packaging… well, I think it was sexy and saleable.
We did all of our initial business from our garage at home (as you do). Orders were coming in and things were moving along, albeit slowly at first. Everything looked on the up and up until the price of one ingredient we relied on went through the roof – and so ended our sortie into manufacturing in this area.
We were still ecstatic to be here nonetheless. Others do not give up so easily however; fantastic ideas are being concocted every week and I see new and fanciful products popping up at the local markets every time I visit.
The northern rivers contains some beautiful areas and many people agree. Folks visit the region and go back to their respective homes and start packing, determined to resettle in them-thar-hills (or seaside). Quite a few of these excitable new residents are bringing brilliant ideas to our fair markets…
Success in a nut shell
One such couple is Pam and Martin Brook of the Brookfarm success story. Their story is similar to the stories of many who come here; the only difference is that they came out the other end of their market stall with a burgeoning award-winning global business.
If you go to the Brookfarm website you’ll immediately see that quality appears to underpin the Brookfarm success. It seems Pam and Martin Brook have been passionate about this attribute in order to effect the sort of evolution required to move up the ladder of business.
Their credo perhaps is written in part in the background offered on their website: ‘Brookfarm is today Australia’s leading producer of premium quality macadamia products and works on their ‘3Ps’ principle: ‘Passion for Quality, Passion for a better environment and Passion for great-tasting healthy food.’
Having had a neighbour that worked at Brookfarm, I was given a bag of seconds containing one of their exclusive mueslis (specially made for an overseas retailer).
Wow! I could not believe this was a sample that didn’t make the grade; it passed all the taste requirements I could muster.
In November 2000 after 18 months of testing, baking and tasting, Pam and Martin sold their first macadamia mueslis at the local Bangalow markets. Pam created the products and for the first two years they baked and packaged in the local bakery.
Martin would then load the muesli into the back of his car and sell to local shops and cafes. The product range grew by popular demand and today all Brookfarm products are made in a purpose-built factory. ‘High quality and attention to detail still lie at the very core of our business,’ the website tells us.
We all hear of this kind of success and whispers of people knowing friends of the founders or how they had drinks with so-and-so the other week. It’s not so rare in this area though for the successful folk to give back to the community that by and large helped them bring into form their ambitious dreams. Pam Brook chairs the Northern Rivers Food Group, an organisation that helps promote and market the producers of the northern rivers.
Brookfarm is also proactive in its charitable pursuits, having donated food to the local Salvos and given to Foodbank, with product also going to the crew of Sea Shepherd; and they play a supportive role with the local Landcare and Big Scrub Rainforest groups.
Brookfarm products are sold throughout Australia and exported overseas, including to the USA and Europe. They sell to food stores and selected cafes and restaurants, resorts, hotels and on board domestic and international airlines. In 2007 Brookfarm won both the Telstra and MYOB Australian Business of the year – the first food manufacturing company to win this prestigious award.
Brookfarm products can be found at most quality local stores.