The best advice that Trevor Perryman ever received came from his Uncle Fred when he was just a teenager. “He told me that doing business doesn’t have to be hard-edged and it really should be enjoyable,” Trevor tells The CEO Magazine.
“What I took from that is that you’ve got to know your go and no-go points. Once you know that, you can enjoy people’s company and also take pleasure in achieving or improving whatever it is that you’re doing. You’ve got to be true enough to make sure you’re making money and you’re not doing a bad job, but you don’t have to be hard-edged.”
The message sounds simple enough, but it’s stuck with Trevor throughout his life and career. After studying a science degree at the University of Melbourne, Trevor spent time working as a brewer and maltster before moving into management roles.
In 2002, he joined Malteurop Australia as Operations Manager and was appointed Managing Director in 2009. A global leader in the malting industry, Malteurop operates 24 industrial sites in 14 countries. The French company produces 2.4 million tonnes of malt each year, which is predominantly used in the brewing industry.
During Trevor’s 11 years as Managing Director he has overseen a massive expansion of Malteurop’s Geelong malthouse. The new state-of-the-art malting and grain-handling plant was completed in mid-2018 and is one of the largest facilities of its type in the world.
The expansion has enabled malt production to increase by more than 150% from 80,000 tonnes to 200,000 per year. “It allows us to capture up to half of Victoria’s entire malting barley crop. It also significantly increases Australia’s exporting malt capacity.
“The Asia beer market is the biggest in the world.”
So that’s a big achievement,” Trevor enthuses, adding that the expansion has also benefited Malteurop’s suppliers. “Our business has increased in size by two-and-a-half times, which means the servicing of our needs has increased by pretty much the same amount. It’s given ample opportunities for not only our existing suppliers but also new suppliers to grow with us. Those suppliers are vital for our success.”
The ambitious project has given Malteurop the opportunity to capitalise on the growth in beer consumption in the Asia–Pacific region, particularly South-East Asia. The Geelong malting site is strategically located between Port Phillip Bay, a major export gateway, and a plethora of high-quality, abundant sources of malting barley.
“The Asia beer market is the biggest in the world,” Trevor notes. “We don’t go into China very much as they have their own malting industry, but the rest of the region is still pretty large and has some of the fastest growing markets globally. So for us, the Asia–Pacific region, excluding China, is about 15 times the size of the Australian market and contributes more than 80% of our sales.”
Trevor believes more businesses in Australia and New Zealand should branch out and explore growth opportunities in Asia. “We should embrace Asia because it’s huge and there’s so much opportunity there,” he says. “Australasia is a beautiful area. It’s a stable place to live and do business. But I think both Australians and New Zealanders have a lot to offer and businesses should look to the broader and close markets of Asia to build brand equity and a sustainable growth path. We often think Asia is a long way away, but if you compare it to Europe, it’s really not.”
Although more than doubling the size of the business has been a remarkable achievement, Trevor is also proud of the work he and his team have done in developing a collaborative cultural platform within the company.
“One of the biggest challenges for me while I’ve been here has been the expansion of the malthouse,” he acknowledges. “But in terms of business sustainability, getting the culture right is probably the most important thing because everything trickles down from there. My experience is that everyone wants to work in a good place. So collectively we recognised that and enshrined it in an acronym to make it clear to everyone that this is who we are, this is what we stand for and this is what we will deliver. We call it PREP, which is an acronym for being professional, respectful, engaged and progressive.”
When it comes to leadership, Trevor says he aims to lead from the front and set a good example for his team, as well as communicating openly to bring people along on the journey. He also encourages his employees to reach their full potential.
“A key thing for me is when people leave, and they will leave one day, I want them to be in a better place than when they got here,” he says. “So I encourage my team to really explore themselves and show us what they’ve got. People tend to thrive on that and end up in a happier place, and also a more productive place.”
“I encourage my team to really explore themselves and show us what they’ve got. People tend to thrive on that and end up in a happier place, and also a more productive place.”
Describing his role as “exhilarating”, Trevor says what he enjoys most about leading Malteurop is the diversity it offers. “A manufacturing business is an ever-entertaining pursuit. It’s so varied and the disciplines are so mixed that it tends to always be dynamic. So you’re always busy and you’re always dealing with different things, which keeps it interesting,” he says.
“It’s also fantastic to be growing a business that uses local agricultural produce to manufacture what we consider a world-class product that also supports regional business and contributes to the export revenue of the country.”
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