Markus Bucher, Swiss ‘Master Cheesemaker’ and David Simpson a third generation dairy farmer who wanted to value-add after dairy deregulation had sent milk prices plummeting, met at a local agricultural show. Markus and Sara Bucher and David and Heather Simpson became good friends and by 2001 were partners in the ‘Maleny Cheese’ business proposal for a retail and wholesale cheesery on the Sunshine Coast’s Maleny tourist trail.
In 2001 the business proposal won a government grant, each party contributed funds and they bought some land. Then began the usual 12 months of planning permits and council negotiations before building the factory, retail outlet and cafe. One early problem was having to pay a large amount of income tax on the grant -not in the business plan!
1)Research told them Switzerland’s most popular tourist attraction was the educational cheese factory – where visitor can watch and learn – so the venture has a strong educational focus.
2)The opening launch attracted 800, so retail sales soon became a major source of cashflow (not the 10% originally estimated).
3)In the first year they concentrated on managing funds and cashflow.
4)The number of tourists has doubled in a year so they are improving infrastructure.
4)In-house marketing has included a website, brochures, in-store promotions and farmers’ markets.
5)They have joined the Maleny Innovative Producers – a group of 5 businesses sharing knowledge, experience and strategies targetting local tourism.
6)Their Tilsit cheese won a gold medal at the Sydney 2005 Specialist Cheese Show as well as 13 ribbons at the Caloundra Show.
7)The cheesery produces 9 yoghurts and 18 cheeses and Maleny cheese is sold in over 150 shops on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane and has recently signed up a Sydney distributor.
8)After 13 months they now employ 22 people, including two Swiss cheesemakers.
9)Plans for next year focus on debt reduction and targetting specialty food distributors.
The Buchers and Simpsons have very different skills, heritage and personalities – WHY HAS THE PARTNERSHIP SUCCEEDED?
-Open, honest communication and total trust in each other’s skills;
-Working through problems openly and giving each other space.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT:
Markus & Sara Bucher Ph: 07 5494 2247 www.malenycheese.com.au