The course of business never runs smoothly, even when you’re in the business of butter.
Entourage student Naomi Ingleton bought an abandoned old butter factory in Myrtleford, Victoria, which had been lying empty since the 1960s, to start up a cafe. Producing butter was actually never the plan.
Initially, Naomi started making butter just for her cafe. Today, King Valley Dairy produces award winning dairy products that have attracted the attention of the industry and accolades from Maggie Beer.
They’ve been churning out produce for a while now, but King Valley Dairy has big plans for the future. They’re currently building a brand new factory, with a modest team of six, hard working employees who will soon triple to a crew of 18.
King Valley Dairy is already turning over $900,000 each year, with a projected $6 million in the next two years
Booming businesses can have growing pains, but Naomi’s dedication to her product and her purpose, and her willingness to ask for help will hold King Valley Dairy in good stead.
What have been your biggest challenges since starting your business?
I have learnt all of my lessons the hard way through this business: but you just have to keep going, having faith that you will be okay coming out the other side. We have had distributors go bust on us, and lost all of our customers.
We have had our supplier of cream pull the pin and had to scramble to find a new supplier. Right now, we’re building a new factory and having to learn how to work with local government bureaucracy and a large team of tradesman. The biggest challenge is upscaling; building the factory and building the agritourism side of the business at the same time.
What have been your biggest wins since starting your business?
We have had so many wins. We have a great product and with it have won prestigious food and manufacturing awards in Australia and overseas. We have taken on equity investment to grow the business, purchased a new property and expanded our manufacturing output tenfold.
“I was awarded a Churchill fellowship to travel the world working with the ‘cream of the crop’ in international butter makers. Oh, and deciding to join The Entourage, or my ‘business cult’ as my husband calls it, was a definite win.”
What inspires you most about your work? What do you love about running your own business?
I love doing business, I love the challenges. I’m motivated to stick it to everyone that told me I wouldn’t make it. I really want to make a difference to the industry, encouraging young people to get involved and proving that it can be profitable and ethically sustainable.
A big part of our business philosophy is the impact we have on our customer, the environment, and industry. How can we do it better? We have taken words out of our company vocabulary: there is no such thing as a ‘by-product’, it’s an opportunity. You either take up the challenge to do something with it or miss out on it… and the latter isn’t an option.
What is the best piece of advice you have received since starting?
Know your ‘why’, everything else will follow.
What advice would you give to someone just starting a business or who wants to start? What do you wish you had been told at the beginning?
Think bigger, believe in yourself and go for it. Learn every day and don’t let the challenges set you back.
What impact has The Entourage and our community had on your business and your life?
The Entourage helped me get stuff together. Being in the program and talking to the advisors has changed my mindset, and opened myself and my business up to opportunities I would never have considered, such as taking on third party investment.
Going to the workshops, working on my business and meeting other people on the same journey has been amazing.
I have been asked to speak at all kinds of events around the country. By saying yes, I’ve spoken at the annual Commonwealth Bank Women in Focus Conference, Australian Dairy Industry National Breakfast, Rural Entrepreneurs Forum at Marcus Oldham College in Geelong and many other regional events.
Without The Entourage, I would never have actually believed I could have the business I am well on the way to having. And now, I have the skills and confidence to drive it forward.