At the beginning of 2020 before COVID-19 hit, business was booming for sheep dairy Grandvewe, but a willingness to adapt and quickness to act has lessened the blow for the Tasmanian-based company.
Grandvewe owner Diane Rae hails from Maleny, Qld, and over two decades ago purchased 32 hectares of land at Birchs Bay, Tas.
Over that time, Ms Rae and children Ryan and Nicole have built an impressive artisan business, with dairy sheep being the centrepiece, producing a range of products including gourmet cheeses and vodka and gin from their micro distillery Hartshorn.
At the start of the year, Grandvewe had posted a profit for two consecutive years, the first time in 18, and construction was set to begin on a bigger distillery.
Ms Rae said when the pandemic hit earlier in the year, it was "like a kick in the guts for a week".
The first day they closed the restaurants and a day later the Tasmanian government closed its borders so tourists vanished.
With tourism being 50 per cent of their turnover, this was expected to take a massive toll.
Ms Rae was left with no choice but to drastically pivot the business, and it was her impressive entrepreneurial skills that resulted in Grandvewe's serendipitous success.
"Nicole was in Queensland meeting a new distributor and she came back and said 'Mum, we should try sanitiser'," she said.
"I thought we're going broke anyway, so what the hell?
"We knew from industry data we'd have a short window, so, we manually mixed it and bottled it 12 hours a day; we were flat out."
In just four weeks they had cashflow to last them to December.
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Once demand for hand sanitiser ceased, cheese took centre stage again.
"Thanks to Nicole's meeting in Queensland with artisan delivery business Cheese Therapy orders started rolling in," she said.
"[Owner] Sam Penny said we needed 400 pieces of primavera by this time.
"We don't milk during winter, so I said, what have we got in cheese storage - what can we do to make this cheese different?"
Another lifesaver was reworking Grandvewe's financial strategy.
"We did a COVID-19 cash flow plan with the help of the ANZ Business Planner, a free, online resource designed to help businesses plan their next step with confidence, and realised we needed to immediately reduce expenses including staff," she said.
"We utilised the Tassie government's offer of free power to build-up stocks, so when everything opens, we'll be ready to go.
"It's important for us to be proactive for the future."
The family is so in tune with the future that they are about to launch two new products.
Nicole's been working on Ewecare, a natural skin care range in reusable packaging, and Ryan, a zero-alcohol range launching in October - both proof that agility and proactivity can result in unprecedented success, even in the middle of a pandemic.
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