Not many organizations can say that they have been in business long enough to go through multiple generations. Sim Fresh, however, is one of the few who accomplished this milestone. Found in 1991, this citrus packing company is based in Australia where the Simonetta family moved in 1956. Led by Joe, Tony, and Mario, the company started as nothing more than a vegetable-growing endeavor that these three brothers and two of their wives enjoyed.
Soon afterward, armed with one packing machine and a small shed, the family started putting out around 1,000 citrus packets every week. That placed them at approximately 50,000 units of annual output. Fast forward to 2018, the company is now projected to complete more than a million units in a single year. This means that Sim Fresh has increased its productivity by 20 times! Regardless of the astronomical expansion and growth, the new management, which is comprised of the founder’s children who grew up learning the business, is loyal to proven methods. This means that they still dedicate an enormous amount of time to good customer service, strategies that facilitate steady expansions, and ways to be more productive while not hindering quality. Luke Cini of the Simon Etta Group decided to share a little about his recent business trip to Miami.
What do you (or your business) do?
Our business provides clients with packed citrus. Though it sounds quite simple, the process involves multiple steps that must be executed to perfection. Failing to do so leads to wasted products and a loss of revenue.
How long have you been in business?
Although we originally started by growing a couple of different vegetables in 1990, Sim Fresh did not come until a year later. I think that 12-month period was how long it took us to decide that this project is something we wanted to pursue on a full-time basis.
Are there any unique challenges in your industry?
There are plenty of them. We often compete with newly-founded companies that have an arsenal of innovative tools. Packing is not what it used to be as computers can now do nearly everything. So, the biggest challenge is keeping up with modernization and other entrepreneurs while making sure that all of our long-term clients are getting what they paid for.
Do you have any particular challenges that you personally address?
Most of the personal challenges come from the fact that we are one big family. Not just figuratively but quite literally, one big family. It is nice to be able to compliment your own brother or child for a job done well, but I do not enjoy scenarios where I have to criticize them. It generally creates some awkward tension that will have to be addressed one way or another. Such an atmosphere is not fruitful and hinders the business.
Is your industry growing, shrinking or remaining the same?
At this point, I would say it is growing. Due to those technological advances that I mentioned, many people believe that they can take over the market with the right equipment. Most of them find this to be false. Still, however, a lot of the new competitors have been persistent and remained active long enough to not be labeled “new” anymore.
How does technology impact your company?
We are more traditional that one would assume. Although it is 2018, we still pack almost everything by hand. This led to plenty of debates and arguments that were caused by some progressive workers wanting to move on to machine-operated operation. Nonetheless, it is our belief that staying faithful to concepts that have proven worthy is the best way to do business.
Have you ever been to Miami?
Yes, although I cannot recall the exact dates, I have visited Miami a couple of times already.
What part of Miami?
When I went for business, I mostly stayed in the Downtown area and around the Dodge Island where the Port of Miami is. The one time I went as a part of my vacation, I spent a couple of days in the Coconut Grove in South Miami.
Did you visit any particular locations including restaurants?
A restaurant that stood out the most was “Marion” in the Downtown. I enjoyed the location as it was right by the ocean and the food was very fresh. I think the lack of those beach-oriented eateries is one of the main shortcomings of my home country!
Would you come back?
Absolutely! If I was to visit again, however, I would prefer to do it for a pleasure trip. Having to focus on my business with hundreds of temptations at every corner is nearly impossible. I also wish that some of my family members could join me as I have mostly been traveling by my lonesome.
Was it a business or pleasure trip?
The first few were business-related as I was visiting the Port of Miami which could help our company’s international shipping issues. The last one, however, had nothing to do with the business since I just wanted to relax and enjoy some of the things I could not during previous trips.
Where do you see yourself or business in 5 years?
I am hoping to see our company grow and reach new areas around the world. Although we are already present in quite a few countries, I think we have the capacity to do more. With proper tools and a dedicated workforce, it is just a matter of time before we get there!