Hamdi arrived In the US at 33, thought American yoghurt was overly sweet and nothing like what he had grown up with. He saw an opportunity, bought a run-down yoghurt factory, stayed very closely involved with every step of the company’s development, learning how to operate the machinery, to design the product branding and packaging, and perfecting the yoghurt recipe.
Now at 41, Hamdi’s business ‘Chobani’ has annual sales of more than $1 billion, and, an Australian factory in Melbourne’s Dandenong.
Hamdi’s business idea was to distribute healthy yoghurt to supermarkets across America. He was lucky with a grant and relied on intuition which he believes can be the best way to go when creating a new market or industry. He says:
“We all have it [intuition] – it’s about trusting it. If you get into something really new, there isn’t the research or examples to show you [it will work].”
At the outset Hamdi hired four factory staff and a yoghurt master then over two years,
“It was enormous amount of attention to every detail. I had one shot and I wanted to make sure it would work…
I designed the price so it would be acceptable for people to buy at a good price, while at the same time having enough margin to come back and support my growth.”
After less than six years of reinvesting profits, Chobani now employs 3000 people and sells yoghurt across America, and now, it’s here in Australia.
Hamdi didn’t advertise till 2011 and says his success was due to creating a healthy and affordable product that people have shared through social media and by word of mouth..’old-fashioned marketing’.
Another spontaneous, intuitive decision has been the purchase of a Victorian dairy Dandenong South in 2011 – based on similar opportunities Hamdi recognised in Australia’s healthy yoghurt market.
Chobani Australia is managed entirely by Australian staff. Launched in December 2012, after adding 3000 square metres of wet processing and cool room facilities to the Dandenong plant, Chobani has created 50 new local jobs.
“The interaction is one of the best I have seen in my life: the best communications..facilitated by social media and a new intranet system.”
“[Mine] is a very humble, simple story. I try and encourage people to bring a new way of doing business: have your ‘why’, your reasons..
A business should have its purpose, and if it does, it can make a really big impact.”
Next business stage – Europe.