Trisco Foods is a growing Australian company, owned and operated by the Tristram family since 1875. Mike Tristram, Director, talks to Renee about thriving in a competitive manufacturing environment.
The family have developed an enviable reputation for quality, service and expertise in the food manufacturing industry over five generations. Now Mike is leading the company in a new direction to embrace a sustainable future for Trisco Foods.
Me: To date what has been your best business decision for Trisco Foods as a whole?
Mike: About 5 years ago we decided to take a risk to enter a new market space. We never thought we would be in the aged care sector but identified a gap and jumped in with a new product concept – Precise liquid thickener. It was not a quick decision and was very much a journey that led us there, but the leap of faith was encouraged by our realisation that we could no longer rely on traditional markets to sustain our long term goals.
Me: With manufacturing going offshore more and more how have you been able to stay 100% Australian owned & made company?
Mike: A few things, firstly we are tenacious about staying in Australia, so ‘grit’ is really important. Secondly, we focussed on transforming internally to be a more lean manufacturer. Thirdly, instead of manufacturing off shore we identified a growth market, essentially we shifted our target market. The fact that our new target market are the vulnerable population offering an ‘Australian made and Australian safe’ product has more value. I believe the value of being an Australian company will only increase.
Me: Looking back what do you consider was the best opportunity for growth Trisco Foods has had to date?
Mike: When we launched Precise we began a long journey with many opportunities. The ability to grasp each one as it came along and then to fight for it to become a ‘win’ has been ongoing – even when faced with adversity we try to turn it into an opportunity. It’s all about the way you think of it.
Me: What do you think will help you grow the business in the years ahead?
Mike: Not being complacent and being brave enough to get out of our comfort zone, plus a positive mindset. At the moment we are focussing on the new markets for Precise and looking at relaunching our product range by rebranding under the ‘Tristram’s’ name instead of as ‘Trisco Foods’.
Me: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in business?
Mike: For me the biggest challenge since I took on this role has been to transition the environment from a more rigid managerial led decision making process to pushing more autonomy and responsibility through to the most appropriate people and departments on the floor. People and culture are always the biggest challenge and getting that right for all areas, from lean manufacturing to product expansion means we are constantly driving cultural realignment internally. There are always challenges around technology but it’s a linear solution whereas with people you need to creative.
Me: What is your best tip for an emerging business?
Mike: Pushing through the ‘dip’ is really important. There is a great book by Seth Godden about this, called “The Dip”, which explains it well. There is always a dip before a massive growth period and pushing through it with passion and perservence to get to the other side is often the difference between succeeding or failing.
Me: Why do you continue working with Evolve Brand Design?
Mike: You are able to incorporate our vision and yours with a logical and creative solution. The Precise brand and sub brands over the years have evolved and you were able interpret the growth of the project with versatile design outcomes. With the latest project we gave you a seed of an idea and you have recreated it exactly as we hoped and yet more.