Page 9 - Food & Drink Business Jan-Feb 2020
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We pulled together, called in people who could assist us, remodelled, spoke to our long-term suppliers, and set up payment plans.
Including the team was very important. We are proud to say that no one lost their job, with some working reduced hours to help get us through. We were incredibly supported, with everyone involved focused on achieving a positive outcome.
A huge challenge in the last 12 months has been the increase in flour prices due to the drought. We are very proud to be supporting Australian farmers as an Australian- owned product delivering to Australian entertaining tables.
In January (2019) we saw a
19 per cent increase in flour prices, which meant a five per cent increase at wholesale price. It took nearly six months to get that increase through the FMCG market and it put us in an incredibly difficult situation.
QAs a woman in the F&B manufacturing sector, are there unique issues or challenges?
I have been to so many events that are male-dominated, each
with their own advice for me. I have always listened as each person you come across has something you need to hear.
I think women are good with gut instinct, but I think they doubt themselves.
I have learned in later years to trust my gut. Mental toughness as a woman gives women opportunity – I just don’t think they believe in themselves enough.
I never saw myself as a woman in a male dominant field, I only saw myself as a person who had a contribution to make. My own unique approach, dedication, high standards and resilience has seen me push through.
I, as a woman, have been subjected to approaches that address my sexuality and my strength in execution, both negative and positive terms.
I have at these times reflected as a person, not a woman, and it gives me the confidence to back myself.
I have at all times stayed true to myself and my values as a woman and not changed for anybody or anything. It’s a true showing of backing yourself and the person you are.
QWhile F&B manufacturing remains the strongest manufacturing sector in Australia, it is a very tough market. What has kept you and the team at Kurrajong Kitchen Group going and successful for more than 35 years?
Without a doubt resilience, grit and determination.
These are the values of the company that sees an inclusive team environment: 70 per cent women; seven nationalities including indigenous; and 35 per cent of our staff come through Nova Employment.
The brand has stayed true to its purpose, values and belief set (see breakout box).
There are many learnings to be shared from this life-time achievement to inspire others and that is why I feel so proud to earn this award. ✷
OPPOSITE: Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh Crackers began after restaurant diners loved them so much.
LEFT: At the end of 2019, Lebsanft was awarded a Gold Stevie Award, in recognition of her success and longevity in the industry.
Karen Lebsanft says Kurrajong Kitchen Group’s success stems from a commitment to its customers and the company’s belief set:
• Our product is loved – consistency is key;
• We are family at Kurrajong Kitchen – inclusiveness is key to building a better team;
• We support each other to be better people – through investment in learning;
• We give our consumers a great experience – consumers are central to everything;
• We own our responsibility and help others own theirs;
• Innovation and continuous improvement will drive us to a world class facility; and
• Partnerships are key to better business – we value our community.
Congratulations on your
Gold Stevie Award –
what does it mean for you? The Stevie award is recognition of the longevity in the industry. We never set out to be this, however, a few early decisions saw to it that this was to be the journey. | January-February 2020 | Food&Drink business | 9

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