Mark Kay, director, Waverley Wholesale, Sydney Markets
Tell me about Waverley Wholesale
Waverley Wholesale has been operating for 17 years.
We supply premium fresh produce to Sydney's hospitality industry.
Recently we have also bought Campbell Farms, a cross-border growing operation which enable us to plan production and growing to maximise the supply of fresh produce to the Australian market throughout the year.
The days of speculative production are over.
What sets your business apart from other wholesalers?
Waverley Wholesale is committed to helping our customers grow their business by supplying premium produce.
Five years ago, we were the first operators at Sydney Markets to introduce a phone app ordering system.
Although it took about a year to get all our customers on board with the new technology, it now means that we can offer an early, reliable wholesale supply and friendly delivery service, while also enabling our customers to speed up and streamline their orders.
The ease of ordering is amazing.
Where do you source your produce from?
We buy most of our product from Campbell Farms, and the rest on the market floor.
We really try to educate our customers about seasonality so that we supply very little imported produce.
Who are your customers?
We supply to restaurants, bars, cafes, catering companies, child care centres, nursing homes, schools, hotels, pubs, parties and events throughout Sydney.
At the moment business from fine dining restaurants is down; sushi bars and cafes are where it's at.
We have a core clientele, some of whom have been with us for over 16 years.
They know that we are always accessible and will always provide them with good consistent product and look after them on price.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I was a chef for 15 years and I was working for Stefano Manfredi and Barry MacDonald, who ran greengrocer.com.
They approached me to run their wholesale so I swapped late night shifts for early mornings.
Then I moved on to work with Matt Brown's Greens for a couple of years, when I thought it was time to go out on my own.
So, with just me and a van and a small office, I started off gradually and built a good customer base.
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Today we have a warehouse at Sydney Markets.
We are still a small family owned operation, although we have grown significantly from our humble beginnings to a team of 10 dedicated staff members, eight delivery vans and one truck.
From that very first day of service we are just as committed and passionate about what we do today.
We strive daily in delighting our customers with premium produce at the best price.
What has changed at the market over the years?
There are a lot more safety restrictions at the markets now than there used to be.
You don't see the crazy forklift driver speeding down the wrong side of the road like you used to.
What is the best thing about working at the market and in the industry?
I love the hours at the market; they are perfect for a family man.
You might get up early, but you can pick the kids up from school - something not many dads can do these days.
I also love that you are always busy, you are always in demand.
What is the secret to a successful business?
The key to success is to work hard, work harder, be polite, be a good communicator and treat your customers well.
Be fair in your pricing and if something is not available let your customer know, offer them alternatives, talk to them and don't shy away from any potential issues.
You shouldn't be looking for the quick buck, you should be looking for longevity in your career and in your business.
How has the business adapted to the Coronavirus lockdown?
Business from restaurants, cafes and bars is starting to contract a little again with the fear of the second wave of the virus, so we just have to wait and see what the next few months will bring.
I fear for some of our hospitality clients; those that are just clinging on might not make it through another wave of the virus and economic downturn, especially after October when the Government support changes.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
The industry is booming, we just have to support Australian grown produce and educate people more about seasonality.
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