Homestyle winner

THE fast-paced lives of many Western Australians has created new business opportunities, particularly in the food industry.

Over the past 14 years the Merenda family has grown Homestyle Vegetable Processors from a $300 a week business to a ready-made food business enjoying an annual turnover of around $10 million.

The Munster-based business was presented with the second generation Family Business Award last week.

Sisters-in-law Nancy and Tina Merenda first started the business by peeling potatoes for people in 1987.

They are slowly handing control of the operation to Tina’s sons, general manager Santo and his brother Joe.

The handover comes during perhaps one of the most challenging times for the business. Over the past year the salad making business has been commissioning a $4 million automotated plant.

Santo Merenda said the new plant had not come without teething problems.

He said that while the expenditure was beyond what was required at the time, it had created efficiencies that have allowed for a 22 per cent increase in turnover without the need for additional staff.

With the plant still only operating at 60 per cent capacity it has presented further room for revenue growth without further investment.

“There is probably another four years of growth before we need to do anything,” Mr Merenda said.

“We are looking to consolidate and try to reach full utilisation over the next 12 months.”

While the business looks set for a fast ride to the top due to growing demand for their products, Mr Merenda said the ready-made food sector was very competitive and tough to operate profitably within.

Last year the business won the Ethnic Family Business of the Year award.

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