The business development manager of Fivemiletown Creamery in Co Tyrone, explains how driving sales within the UK will ensure the success of the company.
Challenging times offer opportunities. And opportunities are what really inspire me in business and life generally. I grew up on my family's hill farm at Cynwyn in North Wales and grew to admire and be inspired by the gritty independence, resilience and entrepreneurship of the local farming community. I learned from them to look for opportunities to survive - where possible to prosper - beyond often daunting challenges including volatile market returns for our products.
We looked for opportunities to diversify, to add to our income. They were tough and unpredictable times. Making ends meet could be very challenging ... and still is for many farming families throughout the UK.
I've seen, also been inspired by, these qualities displayed by the 60 farmers I now work with and talk to regularly in Tyrone's Clogher Valley.
These farmers are dedicated to providing consistently high quality milk for our award winning cheddars and handcrafted soft cheese. Our role is to add significant value to the milk they provide and then sell it to as many outlets that we can generate in the UK, Ireland and much further afield.
Identifying and pursuing opportunities, especially in Great Britain, our primary target market for our range of soft cheese products that will provide consistently good returns for them inspires and drives me.
Fivemiletown Creamery is a small and nimble business that encourages the sort of entrepreneurial activity that first inspired me back on the farm. I think of the description of an entrepreneur by management guru Peter Drucker as someone who "always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity".
I get a real buzz from seeing our cheese in the chill cabinets everywhere in the UK, from the prestigious Food Hall at Harrods in London's Knightsbridge to Harvey Nichols in Manchester and Leeds, most of the main supermarket chains including Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco to more than 60% of the 3,000 delis and farm shops across the country.
I know that our success especially in sales outside Northern Ireland directly benefits the farmers and other suppliers who regularly work with us ... and also the 80 people on our staff in Fivemiletown. My challenge is to continue to ensure success for them by driving sales particularly in Great Britain.