- Be open to changing your business strategy to keep your business growing
- Consider an export strategy - exporting can open up whole new markets you may not have considered previously
- Look externally for assistance
Q&A with Andrew Peace of Andrew Peace Wines
What do you export and when did you start?
Our main export is wine, in fact our wine accounts for 97% of the export business. We started the business 24 vintages ago with the plan to crush 1 tonne of grapes. Within the first 12 months we had already crushed over 3 tonnes. Around one third of that vintage was exported in the first year.
What made you decide to start exporting?
We didn’t really plan to go into export so soon, we sort of stumbled into it.
I attended Roseworthy Agricultural Collage. It’s very different to your regular university environment. We had an amazing group of people and there was great comradery amongst all of the students. We were almost like family. I established a great network through my time there. The contacts I made there allowed me to export pretty much from the start.
Why and how did you choose your markets?
I was lucky enough to have some great friends based in the UK in the industry. Through my network we were able to export 36,000 cases in the first 2 years of business.
We are now one of the top 10 Australian brands in the UK. In fact, one of our white wines is the fastest selling wine in its category.
We now export to 25 countries around the world, but our largest regions are Germany, the USA and the UK.
What was your biggest obstacle and how did you work through it?
For me the biggest obstacle was time away from the business and family. I travel around 5 months of the year. We have found the key to making this work for us is to try and ensure that I’m never away for more than a month at a time.
The other issue is the cost of getting started. Travel is expensive. I remember one time I traveled all the way to the UK for a meeting that didn’t happen. You have to learn to roll with the punches when these things happen. You have to be prepared to put in the extra miles to make things work.
The other challenge is trying to maintain the business at home when you’re away. You really need great staff at home that you can rely on to keep things running in your absence. The most important thing is to be prepared to work hard and put in long hours – then the success will follow.
What is it that you like most about exporting?
For me one of the best things about exporting is reducing the reliance on local retailers. The local market is extremely competitive and margins are very tight.
Export allows the doors to open to a much larger customer base. It has meant that we are able to get better margins and therefore re-invest back into the business in a much larger way than if we were just dealing locally.
We have worked out that our company feeds around 50,000 people per year. That’s something that we are really proud of, especially being a family owned and run business.
What’s been the business result with exporting?
The financial return is important. We started with one large customer locally, then one large customer internationally and have grown from there.
In our business you have good years and bad. The last 5 years have been tougher locally. Dealing with international markets has meant we are able to minimise risk. It has also allowed us to diversify our range. Each market has different needs. Those needs and the need to stay ahead of the competition drive innovation.
In the last 2 years we have developed a preservative free range and a double ferment wine variety to cater to international customer requirements.
What advice would you give to businesses thinking about exporting?
Spend time in the market you want to enter. Travel is key. Physically being in the market and seeing how things run, meeting people and having a face to face presence is so important.
You never know when the next opportunity is coming. It is so important to stay open to opportunity. I was once waiting for a taxi overseas and I happened to see a man that I’d had a meeting with earlier towards the back of the queue. I offered him to share my cab. He was a local importer and to this day we are still doing business together. Be friendly and take every opportunity, more than that, make your own opportunities.
I am also lucky to have a wife that is as invested in the business as I am and we entertain all the time. It’s taking the time to talk to people that you meet. We also used the development grant from the Victorian Government which was a fantastic way to make a start. It’s a brilliant initiative and meant that we could achieve more in a shorter period of time.
Why did you enter the GOVEA awards?
We like to constantly benchmark ourselves. Living in the country you can feel isolated at times. It is easy to travel along as you always have. We like to make sure we are always doing things to the best of our ability and challenging ourselves. Entering these awards is a great way of knowing where you sit amongst your competition.
It’s also a really good way to increase your network and meet new people through the award ceremonies and events.
What has been the change, if any, to your business since receiving the award?
We use it on all of our marketing materials and include it in our email signature. Having a third party endorsement of your business goes a long way.
A big focus for us at the moment is the China market. Since the award we have been receiving more and more inquiries from this region. So for us it’s definitely been a big advantage.
Since winning the Regional Exporter Award category in the Governor of Victoria Export Awards, Andrew Peace Wines have raised their international profile, and are now receiving numerous inquiries from potential business partners in the China market.