Kirra Pines owner takes on much-loved olive busi­ness

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew Purcell [email protected]­der­post.com.au

AF­TER sev­eral years in the vegie game Tim Car­nell has de­cided to branch out a lit­tle and has taken con­trol of Mt Stir­ling Olives.

On top of run­ning Kirra Pines, Mr Car­nell opted to take on the new chal­lenge when he took over from pre­vi­ous own­ers Jim Miller and Vivi­enne Quinn on July 2.

“It wasn’t our in­ten­tion to get in­volved in a re­tail busi­ness sell­ing olives and fudge and the other prod­ucts but we’ve been farm­ing the land around the busi­ness for a few years and a good op­por­tu­nity came up with the ven­dors and we came to a good ar­range­ment,” Mr Car­nell said.

“All the staff stayed on. The busi­ness has been run I guess as a cot­tage, bou­tique type busi­ness, for the last 15 years and the pre­vi­ous own­ers have done a fan­tas­tic job de­vel­op­ing a few re­ally pop­u­lar prod­ucts.

“They’ve got a whole en­sem­ble of prod­ucts like the dukkas, the tape­nade, oils, pick­led olives, on top of in­tro­duc­ing the fudge about five or six years ago.

“For us now it’s about main­tain­ing that, but look­ing at the op­por­tu­ni­ties

mov­ing for­ward with some more whole­sale busi­ness. We’ll try and take the sea­son­al­ity out of the tourist trade and re­li­a­bil­ity on that win­ter busi­ness.

“Com­ing from the vegie busi­ness it was a very dif­fer­ent av­enue to take but I think for us be­ing in farm­ing it adds a cer­tain el­e­ment of di­ver­sity.

“If we get the busi­ness up to a cer­tain stage where it is more pro­duc­tive and slightly big­ger scale we’ll be able to again take the sea­son­al­ity out of our farm­ing busi­ness a lit­tle bit more,” he said.

Tim says they’re plan­ning to ex­pand their prod­uct of­fer­ings in the new year.

“We look for­ward to in­tro­duc­ing, in the first quar­ter of 2019, prob­a­bly four new prod­ucts that’ll be a bit of a crossover with some of our vegie prod­ucts.

“Us­ing our toma­toes and cap­sicums – you’ve sort of got that whole an­tipasto type field.”

He says they’ve been queried on whether they’ll main­tain the olive groves or shake things up a lit­tle.

“Cer­tainly the ques­tions are asked – do we keep olives or do we make way for more vegie land? But we’re cer­tainly com­mit­ted to giv­ing Mt Stir­ling Olives a red hot crack over the next three to five years.

“I think it’s got a great fu­ture. The whole mes­sage around prove­nance is very im­por­tant so we’ve looked at all of what we do in terms of in­gre­di­ents, our sup­pli­ers, the coun­try of ori­gin la­belling as well.

“We’re very proud now to have elim­i­nated vir­tu­ally ev­ery im­ported in­gre­di­ent out of our prod­ucts by work­ing with some great olive pro­duc­ers down south.

“The busi­ness has out­stripped our lo­cal sup­ply here and we don’t grow ev­ery va­ri­ety of olive that we sell.

“Pre­dom­i­nantly our olives here are pressed into cold pressed ex­tra vir­gin olive oil and then we source our kala­matas or man­zanil­las and other green va­ri­eties from other top pro­duc­ers in South Aus­tralia and south­ern NSW.”

The han­dover has been made a lit­tle smoother by the con­tin­u­ing pres­ence of sev­eral em­ploy­ees, Mr Car­nell says.

“We’ve been as­sisted very well by our sales man­ager An­gela O’Mara and pro­duc­tion man­ager Shani Hill.

“Both have been with the busi­ness for a num­ber of years. We’re also as­sisted by our busi­ness man­ager Brad Rubb. Com­ing from a strong re­tail back­ground for many years, he was able to steer the ship in the right direc­tion,” Tim said.

The orig­i­nal own­ers of Mt Stir­ling Olives, the Telfer fam­ily, started the op­er­a­tion in 1993.

“They planted the orig­i­nal grove and had the orig­i­nal shop in the rail­way car­riage. Then Jim and Vivi­enne bought the busi­ness in 2003 and con­tin­ued trad­ing out of the small shop and soon out­grew that.

“They then made the move to the cur­rent lo­ca­tion and the shop has had an­other ex­ten­sion since then.

“Through Jim’s trav­el­ling across the world through his pre­vi­ous busi­ness en­deav­ours he’s been able to source a few dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents, ideas and prod­ucts that were in­tro­duced over time and that laid the plat­form for the very well-rounded busi­ness that it is to­day.”

He’s got some am­bi­tions and plans of his own and says 2019 will hope­fully prove fruit­ful.

“As op­por­tu­ni­ties present we’ll cer­tainly look at ex­pand­ing. We’re in dis­cus­sions now with re­tail­ers and other whole­sale busi­nesses that want the prod­uct.

“For us it’s about mak­ing sure we’ve got the busi­ness side rock solid. We don’t want to over prom­ise and un­der de­liver,” he said.

Mt Stir­ling Olives will launch a new web­site in mid-Jan­uary.


IN NEW HANDS: Mt Stir­ling Olives new owner Tim Car­nell with daugh­ter Jess.


Shani Hill from Mt Stir­ling Olives will con­tinue in her role at the busi­ness af­ter the change of own­er­ship.

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