Glenn Howlett, Arize Fruit Supply, Sydney Markets, NSW
Tell me about Arize Fruit Supply
Although we started Arize Fruit Supply only six years ago we have experience and knowledge that dates back to the Haymarket days. Prior to opening Arize I had worked at Apollo Fruit Supply for 32 years.
What sets your business apart from other wholesalers?
In the industry now it is good to specialise so instead of trying to sell everything it is best to have a point of difference.
We specialise in citrus 52 weeks of the year and we also handle a lot of mangoes out of Mareeba in North Queensland.
We pride ourselves in quality, 52 weeks of the year.
Where do you source your produce from?
We source our citrus according to the seasons; starting in North Queensland and moving south to Mildura in Victoria.
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We have long standing relationships with our growers; we have worked with one grower from Gayndah in the Central Burnett region in Queensland for over 40 years.
You really struggle in the industry now if you don't have long standing relationships with suppliers.
Who are your customers?
We supply mainly to all the independents, retailers and small chains like Harris Farm and IGA Supermarkets. I'd rather be supplying 400 customers than just two or three. It's best not to put all your eggs in one basket.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I have been in the industry for nearly 40 years. I grew up going to the markets as my father was at Haymarket many years ago and I have been working in the industry since I left school.
What has changed at the market over the years?
The way we do business is all compressed into a very few hours of trade of a morning.
Instead of opening at five or six in the morning as it did years ago, we now open at three or four in the morning and most of our trade is over by 5.30am so that buyers can get out of the market and beat the traffic.
What is the best thing about working at the market?
The hours aren't the best, but in saying that we are probably doing less hours out here than we ever have.
You start earlier and finish earlier; the hours definitely have their positives and negatives.
I could never work nine to five; it wouldn't work for me and the hours here are not for everyone.
What would you change at the market if you could?
It would be great to start a little bit later, although I don't see that ever happening.
We need to change the way the market is set up so we work more efficiently because we are running out of room within the market.
What is most challenging about the industry?
We have to compete with the marketing campaigns that the chain stores have.
We have to be one step ahead of the next guy; do someone a little bit different.
While everyone is going left sometimes it is best to go right and step outside of the square.
What is the secret to a successful business?
I think that great service to the retailers is the key to a successful business.
You have to work really efficiently to make sure that the product you supply your customers with is exactly what they want.
What advice would you give young people who want to join the industry?
You need to work hard to get experience and to build a supplier base and relationships with suppliers.
There are a lot of opportunities if you are prepared to work the hours.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
I think there is a future for the industry but there will be less agents, less traders, and more merging. It's getting hard, and expenses are certainly no less than they used to be.
At the end of the day you just have to think smart.