A commitment to “keep the family together” and a willingness to innovate and explore new technologies has helped high-tech manufacturing company Flavourtech ride out an extraordinary year without losing any of its highly skilled staff.
The company’s resilience and innovation are being celebrated as part of a Remarkable Exporters’ showcase being run by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The program replaces this year’s Australian Export and Investment Awards.
Established in 1987, the award-winning global technology manufacturer based at Griffith, NSW, specialises in aroma recovery, extraction and evaporation solutions for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.
A world leader in its craft, Flavourtech exports its high-tech machinery to over 60 countries.
Flavourtech General Manager Leon Skaliotis said while the pandemic caught everybody by surprise, the company had been resilient and as a result, had achieved things they thought could never be achieved.
“I’ve always been a bit of an optimist. We’re getting on with the job and instead of just sitting there and worrying, we’re getting things done and getting ready for when things improve,” Mr Skaliotis said.
Despite the pandemic, which saw new orders for machinery end in mid- February and the company’s factory close in August, the workforce has remained upbeat, informed, focussed and most importantly, together.
“No-one’s complained, no-one’s grumbled. They (staff) have all understood the situation the company has found itself in. They know it’s not the company’s fault and they are all doing what they can to keep Flavourtech’s doors open in the future.
And it’s that sense of family and mutual obligation and understanding that has helped keep them together during the bleakest of economic times.
“The Flavourtech family looks after their people. Once people start here they tend to stay with the company for a long time,” Mr Skaliotis said.
“These guys are quite skilled. For us to train them to this level takes 18-24 months. We are the only ones (in the world) making this unique equipment.
When the pandemic hit and international borders closed, the company turned its attention to new technologies and innovative procedures that could be applied remotely.
“Typically, half our staff travel because they are either sales people or engineers that are installing, servicing or are teaching the customer how to operate the equipment.
“Suddenly with the travel ban all of that revenue stopped, and we had to find new ways to conduct our business.
“As many of our customers are from non-English speaking countries, they created picture manuals using photos to show what to do and how to do it. Then, they’d be online with clients in the client’s time zone, sometimes working through the night, talking to them through various channels.
Keeping staff employed and motivated
The company sent (video camera) goggles to clients so they could see the machinery through the client’s eyes.
“We always considered that doing some of these things remotely was not possible. Well here we are doing installations remotely, we’re doing commissioning remotely.
As the business was quiet in certain divisions it contracted out some staff to keep them employed and motivated.
“Our electrical department of 9 or 10 people have been producing electrical cabinets for schools, for councils, for shopping centres and even for other suppliers that needed electrical units.
With its highly trained workforce intact and new orders returning after “nine months of drought”, Mr Skaliotis is confident of a brighter future.
“It really allows our resilience to stand out as we are now faced with ramping up all of our departments quickly.
“Our faith and belief in our technology, our people and our company appears to have paid off and after going through the hard times we can hopefully return to some semblance of normality.”