What does lupin meal that goes to feed fish in Tasmania have in common with the barley that goes into Australia’s Milo? The answer is Croker Grain.
For 44 years, Croker Grain has worked with local producers to supply wheat, oats, barley, lupins and faba beans to customers around with world.
We caught up with the company’s first employee – and now owner – Greg Carroll about the role of problem solving in the business and why living the company’s motto is so important.
Committee 4 Wagga
From small beginnings in Wagga Wagga, Croker Grain now employs 30 people and has operations in Wagga, Marrar, Cootamundra, Griffith, Henty and its newest acquisition in Berrigan.
Starting with the business in 1975, Greg Carroll explains that about three-quarters of Croker Grain commodities are exported to countries such as China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Egypt.
“We send about 100 containers a week from our Marrar location direct to port by train for export.
“We have a very good relationship working with Nestlé and supply all the whole barley that goes into Milo production in Australia and New Zealand and 75-80% of the oats that go into Uncle Toby’s Oats in Australia.
“We have been supplying Skrettings, a fish stockfeed manufacturing company in Tasmania, with wheat, lupin and faba bean meal for past 15 years.
“Our motto is ‘Small enough to care – large enough to deliver’ and we live by that. We’re small enough that we have a can-do attitude and we really do care about what we do, but we are large enough to meet our customers’ needs.”
When asked about the most satisfying part of his job, Greg points to the people and the problem solving.
“I like dealing with the growers and trying to find alternate markets for the different crops.
“We’re not in the bulk marketplace, like the GrainCorp or the AWB. We’re more in specialised crops such as milling oats, which we’ve now grown into Asia. We will supply 14-15,000 tonnes of milling oats into China and Malaysia this year which is pretty exciting.
“One of our sayings in our business is ‘we like to solve problems’, whether it’s from a grower sense or a customer sense.
“For instance, with the Milo job, the customer was looking for someone to clean and manage their barley needs for Milo production. Because we had the relationship with them with the oats and wheat that we supply, they approached us to manage the product line into their iconic brand.
“For me, it’s about marrying up what the customer wants all the way back to contracting with the growers to get it grown, stored and delivered.
“That you’ve been part of the chain and have instigated something that has gone to the world scene is pretty pleasing. And to bring that opportunity and that benefit back to the rural area is satisfying.”
Benefiting his community is big on Greg’s agenda and part of the reason he joined Committee 4 Wagga.
“I support Committee 4 Wagga because I believe in it.
“I see a lot of merit to having a group of like minded businesses supporting something that’s external to council or government that can put ideas forward for the community.
“Not everything will hit the road, but if you continually have someone putting ideas up, that’s an asset in itself.
“It’s just like in business. If you have someone external saying, ‘I think you should look at this’ sometimes you take it on and sometimes you don’t but it’s the external viewpoint that helps. You can get pretty blinkered or one-directional in business – you need someone external to give you fresh eyes and that’s what Committee 4 Wagga does.”