If you live anywhere along Australia’s eastern seaboard and don’t have an aversion to fresh food, there’s a fair chance you will have sampled some of Adrian Conti’s handiwork.
The third-generation Cobram fruitgrower sends succulent plums, persimmons, peaches, apples, pears and multiple other fruits from Conti Orchards’ four fruitgrowing hubs to supermarkets and independent purveyors of fine produce across eastern Australia and internationally.
The satisfaction of long hours in the orchard, around the packing shed and behind the desk at the helm of the family fruit growing operation comes from the satisfaction each time a customer wolfs into a great piece of fruit.
“Fruit has always been in my blood and I love it, because the challenges you face change all the time,” Adrian says.
“I like the reward of growing something that people can eat and enjoy. It’s an accomplishment when you can grow good produce that people are happy with and therefore everyone can make money from.”
Adrian’s grandfather came to Australia in 1949 and made enough money working in Ardmona to buy a car and put a deposit on a farm just outside of Cobram.
His father Joe took over the farm and worked to build it up, surviving hail, drought and changing demands for fruit. Working with Adrian, the Conti family built the orchard into a local success story, in part because of a strong partnership with Moggs, which was established in Cobram at about the same time as the first Conti farm.
“My father has always said you could rely on Moggs for integrity and that you should feel comfortable with your accountant,” Adrian said.
“The integrity is there, and the trust is there both ways – you have to have a strong relationship. As their business grows, there are always new people and personalities there, but that’s great – the fact that we are both growing is a really positive thing.”
Working out clear and equitable plans to pass a farm business on from one generation to the next can be an intensely complicated and often tense business, but the Conti family had set a benchmark for successful succession planning, Moggs Accounting + Advisory Partner Peter Mogg said.
“The Conti family is a great example of forward planning,” Peter said.
“We started the succession plan seven years ago and it was a great success, because we gave it the time and there was good communication with the whole family. There were no surprises and the transition to Adrian has been very successful – the Conti family are a great example of how to get it right.”
Adrian said succession planning took three years, but was made easier because he and his father had similar mindsets.
“What made it easy for us was that Dad and I were on the same page – we had the same sets of goals, we agreed on it and talked it over through a three year period.
“I think the other thing that helped was that I had worked under Dad for many years and he taught me unknowingly – I learned by just watching what he did. He set a great example and laid a strong foundation for the business.”