Interview with Larry Simonetta of SimFresh

The SimFresh brand has been working towards building a high-quality citrus packaging company for more than a quarter of a century. The brand was born in 1991 when three brothers came together to form their own company in the hope of achieving some form of financial independence. In a short time, the brand moved beyond its initial beginnings with a single machine and quickly became known for its high-quality hand packaging options. As the company has moved towards building a global brand with an international reputation, the latest generations of the Italian-Australian family have come to the fore.

The latest member of the family to join the impressive brand is Larry Simonetta who has joined as Operations Manager. As a member of the family responsible for the stewardship of SimFresh, Larry Simonetta has become a popular figure within the brand and a significant part of the drive to dominate the globe. Already owning a considerable share of the Australian citrus market, the brand continues to grow and evolve a high-quality range of options for clients. Among the success already achieved by the brand is its ability to complete a variety of one-off packaging projects for customers around the world.

How did you get involved in the family business?

My family moved to Australia in the mid-1950s and by the 1990s three of the brothers in my family began the brand as a small one machine company. We now package more than one-million boxes each year, and I was brought into the packaging shed at an early age. It was after college I had to decide whether to join the family business or explore other opportunities. After a lot of consideration, I eventually decided to join our company and fight for the future of my family every day.

What are the main problems of working in a family business?

The brand itself is well-known in Australia and has a growing reputation around the world. I think we have faced some challenges in finding new locations around the world and making sure we stay within regional regulations. On a personal level, my main difficulties are merely caused by working with members of my family. Although we love each other dearly, the closeness of our relationships can cause us to butt heads. Fortunately, we do come to an understanding of how to move forward for the good of the company most of the time.

How has your company remained so successful for over 25 years?

We have been in business for around 28 years, and we have faced challenges along the way to achieving our success. In general, I think we have become successful because we listen to our customers and act on the feedback we receive following each project. If we receive some negative feedback, we listen to how we can better serve a customer in the future.

Why has your company continued to hand pack citrus in the current technological climate?

I am a complete tech geek and spent a long time working to try and change the SimFresh way to include more automation when I first took up my current role. However, I slowly began to realize the approach of hand-picking individual units cuts out many mistakes and is appreciated by our customers who have been with us for a long time and newer clients.

What does the future hold for your company?

We are currently looking to expand into new global markets which are how we are pushing ourselves to build a brighter future for a company which has reached the top in Australia.

Are you changing your marketing approach as you expand into new markets?

As Operations Manager, I am responsible for many internal matters and have been heavily involved in the transition to new markets. In the past, we were not heavily involved in Online marketing as we were already well known in the Australian citrus packaging markets. We are now looking to social media and Online options to assist in expanding into new markets. Social media marketing and the use of platforms such as Linkedin are becoming increasingly important for us.

Do you think you will remain in your current position for the foreseeable future?

I have had offers to leave our company, but I have a sense of attachment to the brand and can’t see myself leaving anytime soon. I hope to keep on moving forward within our company to continue to find success for my family members. As I grow older, I will look to explore some other projects. Right now, I really can’t imagine leaving the company anytime soon.

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