The Scent Of Success
There is a very thick, invisible wall that you walk right into as you enter the Olivieri Flowers showroom. You can’t avoid it and you feel it instantly. A crisp waft of botanic aroma hits you squarely in the nose. It’s so fresh and alluring, drawing you in to an emporium of exquisite, delicate and colourful bouquets. Without effort, the scents and the beauty put you in a state of delight, and it’s in this state of mind you realise, you won’t be leaving empty handed.
Olivieri Flowers is a family owned and operated cut flower farm located on the Pacific Highway at Doyalson North.
The Olivieri brothers Joe, Nate and Tony decided to start a joint venture growing their own flowers, on a “hunch” that flowers are never going out of fashion. And it was a good decision to come on board, as the “hunch” has paid off and the business has now been thriving for 29 years!
However, as with all great businesses Olivieri Flowers has had to adapt to changes not only in demand for flowers, but also in their business processes.
After deciding on a 12.5 hectare block in Doyalson, the process of building the business began. Initially the Olivieri brothers specialized in growing chrysanthemums. Back in 1990 when the business began, fresh chrysanthemums were the flower of choice, and these were grown in open air paddocks. Business was booming, so much so that more land was needed to grow more flowers. To meet demand, the original dam was filled in to create an extra 5 acres of space.
In order for their business to operate all year round Joe, Nate and Tony decided to build greenhouses to provide the perfect conditions for their flowers. These greenhouses control their climate automatically via specialised computer systems that minimise the risk of human error. This in turn produces a stronger, more perfect flower. They have also adopted many successful world-wide production processes to minimise spraying and the use of harmful chemicals.
Management of the heating in the greenhouses is vital. 160,000 litres of water per day, circulating through a closed water system, is heated via a coal fired heating system. Having tried many different forms of fuel, including gas and diesel, to heat the water, the coal fired system has been the most effective. Although Joe acknowledges this is not the cleanest form of fuel and has concerns about the ongoing use of coal and it’s by products, he is yet to find a better solution. And with 10 acres of beautiful flowers growing, continually offsetting their carbon footprint, it is hard not to see his point.
With these new facilities to grow flowers all year round and the ability to adapt their business to changes in demand, the Olivieri Flower Farm has been able to continue to thrive. Not only do they maintain supply to local florists on a weekly basis, but they also meet the demands of other growers, supermarket chains as well as the various traders which show up at the flower markets in Sydney every week. The Olivieri’s have also opened up their own florist at the front of their Flower Farm at Doyalson.
Facing challenges for the first time
Around 1995 the Olivieri brothers faced one of their first challenges in the business. Some of the companies they supplied to realised it was cheaper to import their chrysanthemums rather than buy from the local grower. As with many businesses, the flower industry has had to adapt to an ever increasing import market, where flowers come cheap and fast.
Rather than allow this change in the industry to ruin their business the Olivieri brothers changed their tact. As specialists in the flower industry they knew that to stay in business they needed to be able to supply flowers at a steady rate, which were not able to be imported. The solution; lilies and Gerberas. Both of these flowers still provided beautiful colour, making them an attractive focal flower in mixed bunches, but were too heavy and delicate to be imported successfully.
Diversifying and Specialising
On the surface it appears that growing flowers is as simple as planting, picking, packing and selling. However, dig a little deeper and it becomes obvious there is much more to it. The brothers are always looking for new varieties of lilies that grow faster, but maintain their quality. This assists with business productivity and efficiency.
Specialising in fresh lilies and gerberas is no easy feat. With each bulb only producing one stem and some varieties of lilies taking up to 4 months to be ready for harvest, a meticulous program organising what needs to be grown when, how many of which Lilly, which crop grows faster, which crop grows slower, what events in the year do they need more flowers for, which supplier needs what lilies, who is taking what to the market this week, how many pickers do we need each day… (the list goes on…and on), is imperative. Joe is in charge of this calendar and has the entire year mapped out in advance.
Pickers are now able to pick flowers, bunch them, sleeve them and pack them at the site of the harvest
Labour Of Love
With their business model continually being refined, the Olivieri brothers are still looking for ways to improve, even after 29 years in business. The process of picking and packing the flowers has been streamlined more recently, where pickers are now able to pick, sleeve and pack bunches of flowers at the site of the harvest. Some new varieties of bulbs are down to 3 months in growing time. Saving valuable time and money in every corner of their business is one of their keys to success.
After spending almost 2 hours with Tony in the flower farm and listening to him articulate all of the finer details of his business, I asked him what would be the best advice he had for anyone going into business. Without hesitation he offered his “bulb” of wisdom. “Costings! Continually work out your costings”. He went on to explain that although he agrees all businesses start from a thought that keeps developing and growing, unless you are always checking back on your costings you may not only be running your business less efficiently but you may also be doing more work for less money. This is some great advice that the Bishop Collins Accounting team strongly agrees with.
Despite the hard work, long hours, risks and changes in the market, the Olivieri brothers are still passionate about their flowers. When asked if they still love having flowers in the house, Tony replies with a smile “oh yeah! They’re beautiful. My wife still loves having flowers every day at home, who wouldn’t”.
The source of the beautiful scents that hit you as you enter the Olivieri Flower Farm Florist at Doyalson North.
Olivieri Flowers have been clients of Bishop Collins Accountants for 7 years. If you are looking for fresh flowers, grown locally on the Central Coast, we highly recommend giving them a call.
Their website is: http://olivieriflowers.com.au/