Putting people first pays off

BUSINESS GOES NUTS: Company chairman Chris Ford with its core product.
BUSINESS GOES NUTS: Company chairman Chris Ford with its core product. Luke Mortimer

OVER 30 years, Alphadale's Macadamia Processing Company grew from a two man operation in a Goonellabah shed to the world's biggest processor and supplier of macadamia products.

The company, valued at roughly $100,000 in its early days, used to produce 50 tonnes of macadamia nut products annually, but is now cranking out 10,000 tonnes, employing 160 workers and is worth about 16-17 million dollars.

At the company's 30th anniversary celebration at Alphadale yesterday, chairman Chris Ford said the day was a "recognition of the success and importance of the macadamia industry to the Northern Rivers".

"At the end of the day, we are effectively a co-op working with about 180 growers who have supported the company loyally over 40 years," he said.

"I am so proud of what MPC has achieved over the years and I'm really pleased with the support we've had from employees and growers, which has helped the company achieve the position it currently has."

He added that an important element of the company's success was the low turnover of skilled employees with years of experience.

"A lot of them have been here for 15 to 20 years and we put on casual labour during the cracking season," he said.

Casual worker of about 10 years Alex Batschowanow, from Billen Cliffs, praised the company for its personalised approach to "looking after" its employees.

"My mum died and I had to go down to Melbourne and they just said to me to 'take as much time as you like'. They're really good like that," he said.

"For us (the workers), today is a celebration of having that secure work available."

During the celebration, a book was launched, titled The First Thirty Years - a history of the Macadamia Processing Company.

Page MP Kevin Hogan and Lismore MP Thomas George unveiled a plaque celebrating the company's 30-year history.

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