HELPING BUSINESS TO GROW
Employees grow with business
FOUR dedicated employees at Bendotti Exporters have watched their place of employment expand as the region experienced growth in the agriculture and horticulture industries over the past 15 years.
With a total of 55 years experience between the employees, their tenures range from 10 to 15 years with the company.
Julie Clarke, Kay Manalis and Leanne Ellis have been at Bendotti Exporters since it opened its doors in 2002, while Michael Fagan has been there for 10 years.
Bendotti Exporters supplies, prepares and exports potato seeds, raw potato products, cooked, chilled pasteurised potatoes and frozen french fries.
When the business first started at its Franklin Street location in Manjimup, there were up to 12 employees, which has grown to 19 as the business expanded.
Julie, as administration manager, witnessed the growth of the business first-hand and her own skills and responsibilities grew as a result.
“It was on a lot smaller scale when I started, I was the only one in the office,” she said.
“I saw the change in direction, back then there was a mindset of being “just spud farmers” but we’ve gone beyond that into the business we have today.
Julie said one of the newer aspects of her role was learning more about the financial side of the business.
“I enjoy the challenges and having scope to grow and learn,” she said.
– Leanne Ellis
“I’ve finished a bookkeeping diploma and I want to step up more to help.”
One thing that has not changed over the years, according to Julie, is the people she works with and meeting so many of the region’s potato growers.
The three other long-serving employees can be found hard at work in the factory, doing everything from grading and sorting potatoes to operating machinery.
Kay, as the factory supervisor, has been operating out of the same spot during her 15-year tenure and jokingly referred to herself as “part of the furniture”.
“Technology has certainly improved in those 15 years,” she said.
As a place that made work of seasonal employment, Kay said she met people from all walks of life and from around the world.
“There’s six of us in the factory that run the show and we can have up to 12 people max during the busy season,” she said.
“I love my staff and the Bendotti family are wonderful – I think I’ll be here for quite some time.”
Leanne has worked in the factory alongside Kay since day one as a lab technician and supervisor and if Kay is away, Leanne takes over.
Leanne said one of her favourite parts of the job was the variety of her work.
“I move around all the time, I don’t think I could handle standing still,” she said.
The upgraded bagging machine the factory also received had also helped “100 per cent” more, she added.
“As long as there’s a job here, I’m here,” Leanne said.
Bendotti Exporters general manager Paul Kerry said it was important to know that what Leanne and Kay did in their jobs was incredibly difficult.
“They have a very high skill set and not many people in Australia could do what they do,” he said.
For Michael, it was the team at the business that made the job so special.
“If you don’t get on with people at work, it makes the work harder — we don’t have that issue here,” he said.
As a grader, Michael’s job is sorting potatoes and sorting out the rubbish.
And after 10 to 15 years at the same work place, all four of the long-serving employees still say they enjoy potatoes, even if they only have them at work.
As long as there’s a job here, I’m here
Julie Clarke, Michael Fagan, Kay Manalis and Leanne Ellis have put in a combined 55 years of work at Bendotti Exporters.