Golden North was voted favourite ice cream tub in Australia for a second consecutive year. Founded in 1923, the company began as a family business, then went through several changes in ownership. In 2009, five families bought the company with the intent of growing the business nationally and internationally. In 2017, Golden North manufactured 12 million litres of ice cream from its plant in Laura, South Australia, with distribution across Australia and exports to China.
In 2017 Golden North was a medium-sized, growing business with ambitious plans for further growth in Australia and overseas. The company had been exporting to China for 18 months prior to joining the program, but did not have a well-developed export strategy.
After attending an ANZ Assessment Clinic, Peter Adamo, Managing Director, decided it would be useful for him and the other co-owners to attend the three Growth Modules to learn more about growth, including pitfalls to look out for. He wanted to be sure that the Golden North owners responsible for various units within the company had a shared vision, and agreed on a set of goals and strategies to drive the company’s growth and expansion.
“The Growth Modules were beneficial for our team from that perspective, but we also got to meet other business people who were developing their own visions and plans for growing their companies. We listened to their challenges and compared them to ours, we discussed different solutions to problems, and we gained a lot of insights that we applied to our own company.”
The combination of presentation, discussions with other companies and application to their own company helped Golden North clarify its opportunities and challenges. Although China had already been identified as a primary growth market, the Golden North team realised that the people they had been dealing with did not have the right contacts and that they needed to find new people.
The team decided they needed to drive costs out of the business, so they looked for efficiencies, streamlined processes, and considered whether they had the people needed to take the company forward. Being based in regional South Australia meant that most employees came to the company straight from high school. Although the company had been providing “on the job” training, the team quickly realised that it needed people now with a different kind of knowledge and skills that would enable the company to grow. This meant they had to make some tough decisions about current staff members and recruit some new ones, but the team agreed it was critically important to get the right people in the right roles in order for Golden North to be able to grow.
The Growth Modules enabled the team to look at all aspects of the business, including its branding and positioning as a “SA-based company”, its packaging and its overall cost structure. The team decided that the lower cost of manufacturing in a small town was positive, but the transportation costs of trucking ice cream to the population centres on the east coast added costs to the product. So while the owners are committed to keeping the current manufacturing plant in Laura, they would expect future expansion would be closer to urban centres.
“Having four of us attend the program and address these issues together, and talking with other company CEOs, executives, and Growth Experts made us realise how important it is to talk with each other, and to communicate with our employees. We learned that it’s really important to keep people in the loop and get their input as we look at issues impacting the company’s top and bottom line.”
The Growth Modules helped the Golden North owners learn how to analyse its costs and fully understand the inbound and outbound supply chain costs. Stripping out unnecessary costs has freed up money for growth and is helping the company become more cost-competitive.
The Growth Modules also highlighted the importance of being customer-focused and understanding what your customers need, want and value. This led the Golden North to undertake more research into the Chinese market. They found that smaller packaged products for individual consumption were more popular than litre or even half-litre containers of ice cream. They also discovered that the Chinese had different taste preferences for ice cream, which led Golden North to develop a new product – green tea ice cream – which has proven to be popular with the Chinese and is getting repeat orders.
The company also took steps to better understand its Australian consumers and engaged a brand organisation to help define the characteristics of its brand and to increase brand awareness nationally. Based on this, Golden North in January 2019 rolled out a new logo and new look 2 litre ‘Simply Indulge” product to reflect the quality of the product and has been well received by loyal customers.
“The Business Growth program was just what we needed. It provided a structure and process that enabled the four of us to systematically work through the issues we needed to address to prepare Golden North for growth.”