What do you do with an empty cool room left from a previous business? Start a mushroom business of course. That’s what Kim and Christine Margin did and worked out how to grow mushrooms along the way. Have a listen for some great Secret Sauce pointers on Love, Business and Mushrooms.
Some Secret Sauce highlights from this episode:
For romance, we plan special meals once a week. We cook something fantastic and enjoy it with a glass of wine. It’s nice eating together. Food is love. We put on the wood-fired oven and sit down in front of it and hold hands while listening to music.
As a family, it’s good to have two to three proper business meetings a year to discuss problems, brainstorm ideas and map out your goals. We’d all vote on new ideas which meant everyone felt like we were moving forward together.
Our first selling model didn’t work so we changed it.
Originally we sold our mushrooms to wholesalers and they wanted a cheap price, mushrooms that were all the same size and expected us to pick twice a day. We were exhausted and not happy so decided to change our approach and sell direct to customers via Farmer’s markets.
We liked to engage with our customers and did a great job of it.
From that moment on it made a big difference to both our happiness and the success of the business.
Communication is a big part of business couple success. We make lists of things we want to achieve together. Otherwise, you’ll just amble along doing the same thing. If you’re driven to change, you’ve actually got to do it. Figure out, how you’re going to change, and then do it.
If we think something has got to be done, we don’t put it off. We just do it.
Margin’s Mushrooms is a farmer-owned family business. We grow three types of mushrooms: White Mushrooms, Swiss Browns and Oyster Mushrooms.
We sell direct to the public from our farm and at Farmer’s markets from Sydney to Newcastle including Gosford Farmers Markets.
Margin’s Mushrooms started off as a bit of an experiment to see if a cool room from our old ice cream factory would be suitable for us to grow mushrooms.
We put in the effort had some successes and failures and great support from the industry and Neal Marland.
In June 2011 we expanded our operation into the old Woy Woy Abattoirs which had been closed and unused for 7-8 years.
The whole family jumped in and helped with the setup. My wife Christine finished her work, managing a coffee shop, and joined the business full time, My eldest son Charlie held his part-time job but worked full time on the mushroom farm. Our youngest son George who was doing his final year at school helped out whenever he could.
We had a team going for a couple of months. Fred Nichols the owner of the abattoirs pitched in and helped every day, My mother made lunches for everyone and my father helped me all day every day for months while we recycled the cool rooms into our mushroom farm.
We produced our first crop in 2011 rolling out room 2 about a month later. After a few more months we commissioned room 3 and about 2 years later we commissioned Room 4.
Along the way we have continued to tune up our mushroom growing skills. We have a collaborative approach to this where we discuss our growing decision so we all benefit from the experience.