Tom Cave, director, Roy Cave & Son, Sydney Market, Flemington, NSW
Tell me about Roy Cave & Sons.
Roy Cave & Son is a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, owned and operated by my father Rory and I.
I am the fourth generation to run the business, which was started by my great grandfather at Haymarket in 1926.
We work with our growers and suppliers to supply premium quality produce to our customers and have just installed a new storage facility to cater for the growth of the business.
What sets your business apart from other wholesalers?
I think my youth sets us apart from the other wholesalers as I am 27 years old and have been running the business for 10 years.
There aren’t many young blokes getting into the industry, let alone running their own business, because these days they don’t want to wake up and go to work so early in the morning.
We have worked really hard to create a great environment with really happy staff, really good people and a lot of growers and customers are keen to support what we are doing.
What do you specialise in?
We specialise in good quality produce with berries as our main line, while also supplying a lot of exotic and tropical fruits.
Where do you source your produce from?
We source our produce from all over Australia, depending on the growing season. You have to make sure you have a good supply chain.
Who are your customers?
We mainly supply independent retailers, and providores, as well as the chain stores, although we try to limit our business with them because they are more interested in price rather than quality.
We have found it best to invest and work with like-minded growers and customers who really care about quality.
Our export side of the business is also growing. We are currently exporting to Hong Kong, China, and Saudi Arabia though exporters.
The whole world is screaming for Australian fruit because of our quality control so we need to make the most of the opportunity.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I worked at the market with my father when I had school holidays and when I left school I went into the business and learnt to love it. I loved the idea of being in control of your future by running your own business so after two or three years I took over the reins.
The business wasn’t in good shape at the time, it had a good platform, we had a good name with four generations behind it but the business itself had to be rebuilt.
Looking back rebuilding the business taught me so much.
What has changed at the market over the years?
So much. It changes every day, it changes every hour. We are selling perishable goods and we have a limited time to sell them so you really have to stay on the ball.
Obviously, the biggest change in the industry is the chain stores bypassing the central market. It’s definitely getting a lot harder, there is more competition and you have to be smarter and make sure that you only supply the best quality.
What is the best thing about working at the market?
I get to go home at 10 in the morning and go surfing.
No, seriously, the people make the market special. It’s like I’m dealing with my mates every day – my suppliers, my customers – it’s different every day.
What is most challenging about the industry?
One of the most challenging things was developing the trust of good suppliers.
It takes a lot of time, lots of rejections and lots of persistence until they think that this young bloke’s alright, I’ll give him a go. It takes a lot of hard work to build yourself a good reputation.
What is the secret to a successful business?
Hard work and people. You need to surround yourself with good people and you will naturally be successful. If you can have a good network of good people – good staff, good growers and genuinely good customers – it’s a good thing.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
We need to protect our market, our growers and our retailers, and the quality of our Australian produce.