A TOMATO “is not simply a tomato”, says Bill Kollatos, managing director and founder of Yarra Valley Farms. Claiming to be one of Victoria’s largest distributors of fresh fruit and vegetables, he says: “When you are supplying the hospitality industry, knowing that a chef is very particular in what he wants, you must have a highly efficient ordering system.”
From an outsider’s perspective, when you have 500 such customers, and supply perishables in an industry where quality, availability and price change daily, you could also have mayhem. From a start-up in 2003, Kollatos has presided over a dramatic growth period with revenue now in the “multi-million-dollar” range. “We’ve grown 1000 per cent in four years and moved warehouse four times.
“We distribute to cafes, bars and restaurants across Victoria direct and through our seven franchise operators.” The son of immigrant Greeks, Kollatos, equipped with an MBA and graduate credentials in IT, is hardly your typical fruit and vegie provedore. Yet he says his 17 years in a variety of industries together with his education and software knowledge have been a godsend for the business.
Operating in one of Australia’s most fragmented markets, Kollatos wants to both consolidate and transform the industry throughout Australia, while focusing strongly on customer service, satisfaction and retention. His experience in other industries gave him “unique” insights into how he could make “disruptive” and “transformative” changes to the industry. Read more.
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