Leading up to the Australian Grand Prix cancellation I was thinking “Oh, that's not going to be much good”. And then the materialisation of other sports events being cancelled - and no place of mass gathering. No weddings. No functions. Well, that's my business.
Pasta Classica, my family owned and run boutique pasta business has been operating now for just shy of 30 years. It started with my wife and I having a dream to be self-sufficient in terms of manufacturing.
We chose not to be a "Me too" pasta business, we thought we'd have to be very different and at least find a wedge in the market that would allow us to survive. We've created a reputation for ourselves such that all gourmet pasta is measured against our barometer, our standard, our offering, our variety, our quality - and we are pretty proud of that.
I think our standard was quite novel in the industry and hence how we came to be supplying all the majors: the majority of the major five star hotels in Melbourne, virtually all the major stadiums from the MCG to AAMI to Marvel. And the major sporting events in the city, the Grand Prix and Spring Carnival.
I was on my way to deliver the pasta to the Grand Prix when I got the call: it had been cancelled. With around 80, 90 kilos of pasta now sitting on my hands, we re-purposed and utilised it through prepared meals.
It wasn't a wasted effort, we could utilise it, no problems about that. And it was really good, lovely ravioli. Beautiful, beautiful products. So we put them through. In fact, we don't normally use those products in our prepared meals. So having utilised them sort of made us realise, “maybe we should do more of that”.
That helped us broaden the range of prepared meals and spark ideas for business survival, so there's a positive.
A Helping hand
It's funny, I don't speak to many people about their relationship with banks, but I have an amazing relationship with my bank, ANZ.
Not only did my relationship manager explain the finance support that is available, he sat down and brainstormed ideas, provided suggestions. It was quite humbling that they were suggesting business alternatives.
I don't like sitting on my hands and licking my wounds. They [ANZ] were aware of this, so weren’t surprised that I'd be looking for opportunities outside my normal comfort zone.
They were encouraging of those ideas that I had and were tuned into what would be happening to people, particularly what would be happening to me.