TASTY NEW VENTURE
Kirra Pines owner takes on much-loved olive business
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.