Victoria’s tough lockdowns may have stopped Covid-19’s spread, but border closures make it difficult for manufacturers. Here Robert Giles, CEO, SPC Ardmona explains how his company kept the business running.
You would have to have been living under a rock to have missed the news that Victoria’s borders have been closed to much of Australia since the second wave hit a few months ago. While this weekend’s announcement that restrictions will be eased based on numbers rather than dates is a welcome relief, we still have a way to go before we ease into COVID normal.
Victoria is home to Australia’s largest and most established food processing sector, we supply much of the nation’s – and a fair chunk of the world’s food. So for some time now, many businesses, including SPC, have been forced to adapt to ensure that supply is maintained.
Beyond the border closures, there have been other challenges. The travel restrictions within Victoria have also meant that we haven’t been able to hit the road and visit our regional sites.
At SPC, we know that our people are crucial to our business’ success; we work very hard to hire staff that identify with our strategy, vision and values. Meeting with our people face to face builds collaboration, engagement and connection – I regularly speak with our team and they are craving the opportunity to be in the same space, have a ‘real’ conversation and get back to the office. We have been managing the juggle of working from home, homeschooling and isolation all at the same time trying to inspire our team to join us on our global growth journey.
As we continue to grow into a global agribusiness we have made several strategic hires. Staffing and recruiting without a face to face interview poses challenges but we are learning and adapting our approach. We believe it’s very important to ensure that our staff are well suited to our organisation and it’s been challenging having to do this virtually. We have several new starters and I’m looking forward to meeting them in person. I’m also looking forward to the day when we can gather our team together to give them a business update, without having to worry about connection issues.
We know that the restrictions will ease and the borders will reopen. That’s why we have continued to push on, our business is performing well and we are making good progress; albeit a little slower than we planned.
Spring is a very busy time for regional Victoria with the start of the growing season and we are gearing up for the influx. We’ll make sure to maximise yield and minimise losses so Australians and our global customers get access to the best produce. Although the borders are closed we have been working tirelessly with our stakeholders from our distribution partners to key customers to guarantee we get our products onto your plate.
I’m hopeful as numbers across our state continue to fall that we will see an expedited reduction in restrictions and our borders open sooner rather than later so that we can all get back to COVID-normal BAU operations.
Robert Giles is CEO, SPC Ardmona. In June, 2019 Coca-Cola Amatil sold its SPC fruit and vegetable processing business to Shepparton Partners Collective for $40 million.
Picture: SPC Ardmona
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