In a nut shell

Cathe­dral Cove Macadamias’ prod­ucts have trav­elled from their or­gan­i­cally cer­ti­fied or­chard just out­side Ha­hei on the Coro­man­del Penin­sula to out­lets across the coun­try, and over­seas as far as Har­rods of Lon­don.

Element - - Artisan - By Andy Ken­wor­thy

A break­fast meet­ing with an ac­coun­tant, a lawyer and a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor, ac­com­pa­nied by var­i­ous mar­ket­ing peo­ple, doesn’t usu­ally in­volve home-made bread, free-range eggs cooked in an out­door oven and lay­ers of fleece and woolly hats in­stead of busi­ness suits.

But the team from Cathe­dral Cove Macadamias like to do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. This kind of con­vivi­al­ity is at the very heart of their busi­ness, and their life­style.

Auck­lan­ders Brian and Sue Pilk­ing­ton started look­ing in the Coro­man­del di­rec­tion more than 30 years ago, and came across a dis­used farm a stone’s throw from Cathe­dral Cove. The cou­ple fell in love with its 16 acres of park-like sur­round­ings and the po­ten­tial of its 20-year-old or­chard of 1000 ma­cadamia trees.

Says Brian: “We came from pro­fes­sional ca­reers and a lot of peo­ple lit­er­ally thought we were nuts. They started telling us all the things we needed to do with shel­ter­belt and such like and it was in­for­ma­tion over­load. At that point we won­dered if we had bit­ten off more than we could chew.”

In the early days the farm re­mained a week­end pur­suit, but as two days a week stretched to three and more, the cou­ple started putting their busi­ness dream team to­gether from their con­nec­tions back in the city. Brian’s back­ground as an ac­coun­tant meant he could do the num­bers and Sue put her ex­pe­ri­ence as a for­mer home eco­nomics teacher to good use cre­at­ing recipes for de­li­cious Ma­cadamia dukkas and sprin­kles.

Mean­while, the cou­ple’s two sons re­turned from their OEs. After slog­ging it out in Europe the idea of a family firm in a kiwi beauty spot was pretty at­trac­tive. Hand­ily, Hamish has a de­gree in mar­ket­ing and Justin rel­ishes the face-to-face chal­lenge of selling at mar­kets, fairs and the like.

“The re­sources we don’t have in-house, we marry!” jokes Brian. Justin’s wife An­drea has as­sisted with the cre­ation of the com­pany’s web­site and Hamish’s wife Har­riet comes with her own busi­ness pedi­gree as the daugh­ter of Auck­land-based mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist Brian Richards.

The family jovially refers to the cou­ple’s daugh­ter Ta­nia as the last one of them with a “proper job”. After 10 years, the re­sults have been see­ing the com­pany grow from times when the family did ev­ery job with their own hands, to the point where their prod­uct has found its way to Har­rods and they are con­sid­er­ing ex­pand­ing their lit­tle em­pire by start­ing an al­lied seafood busi­ness.

At the same time they have gone from rel­a­tive out­siders to an in­te­gral part of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Sue says: “The lo­cals were quite stand-off­ish at first, but that re­ally changed when we started go­ing to the fairs and mar­kets.”

Brian and Sue Pilk­ing­ton. Photo: Ted Baghurst

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