Whitestone Cheese: OBIZ Winner 2014
It has been a busy five years for the CEO of Whitestone Cheese Simon Berry and his wife Annabel Director of Design Federation; running their two businesses, raising three children and building their dream home on the outskirts of Oamaru. Both educated at the University of Otago with Bachelor of Commerce degrees they followed similar career paths in marketing and business management, both here and off shore. Now both are applying this knowledge to their current roles and supporting each other through their business developments.
Whitestone Cheese has been going from strength to strength which culminated in winning the Supreme Business Award at the OBiz Awards at the end of 2014. Whitestone is a family business that was started by Simon’s parents Bob and Sue Berry in 1987 as a diversification to the family farming operation. Simon joined the family enterprise in 2003, after developing 5 years of international business skills in accordance with this return to the family business. Whitestone now employs over 50 staff, produces more than 20 varieties of cheese and supplies products to domestic retail and foodservice markets. Internationally exporting to Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, Qatar and the USA.
The success of Whitestone Simon says has been down to a focus on producing quality high value products, ‘having a local source of world class milk on our doorstep, which we can than produce world class cheese with, has been the main driver for our success. We have been able to develop products with regional flavours, a point of difference not found anywhere else in the world.’
Business innovation and new product development is a core attribute of the company who are constantly driving for perfection in their products. Cheesemakers employ traditional open vat techniques, producing high-value artisan products, combine this with packaging innovations to extend shelf life and shelf presentation, this speaks the flavour of the company; combining tradition with innovation.
Annabel has recently stepped into the Whitestone fold by providing marketing expertise and working on developing The Store for future tourism opportunities. She has also been running her Design Federation business since 2012 after retraining in interior design, providing a mix of marketing and design services to both commercial and residential clients. ‘I focus on giving clients a full service approach from the inside out – ensuring that both their marketing and the interior design of their business all reflect their brand. So when customers engage with them whether it’s online, in advertising, or visit their premises everything is singing from the same song sheet.’
Simon and Annabel are actively involved in their community; Simon is Chair of the Chamber’s North Otago Board, while Annabel was the Chair of the Tourism Board up to having her third child last year. As for the next stage in their careers both Simon and Annabel want to make sure they maximise the future years to ensure they provide opportunities for their children Mia (3), Jackson (2) and Boe (6 months). ‘For us it is all about the next generation, putting in the hard work now and ensuring we leave a legacy that can be built on in the future in this incredible region,’ Annabel says.