Meet the members – Garth Douglas
What is your business?
I own Coast & Plateau Fine Foods. We are a specialty food and beverage distribution company, servicing the Mid North Coast and New England Tablelands.
How did you come to start your business?
The business has been around for a couple of decades now, in various forms. The previous owner was a good school-friend of mine, and over a few beers he decided to pass business over to me back in 2014. Since then, we’ve worked hard to expand our range, focusing on quality products from some of Australia’s best producers. We are proud to work with a handful of very talented local producers, growing their businesses and promoting their products across the region.
How long have you been in Bellingen?
I am lucky enough to have grown up in Bellingen, moving here at the age of four. I did all my schooling in Bellingen before making the trip to Sydney for University, and the beginnings of my work career. In 2014, my wife (who also grew up in Bellingen) decided to move back to town, and make roots with our young family. It’s a pleasure to be able to raise our four girls in Bellingen, giving them the same childhood we were lucky enough to have.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Most of our customers are small cafes and restaurants. The COVID restrictions meant they couldn’t trade, so our business all but ceased overnight. We lost around 85% of our trade. At the time, we were carrying a lot of perishable stock too, such as smallgoods and cheeses, so it was a very stressful period but we managed through it. Like a lot of small businesses we changed our product offering as quickly as we could to suit the available market – which in this case was supermarkets. This helped us diversify our range, and reduce our reliance on the food service channel.
You’ve just joined the Chamber Board — what prompted you to join and what are you hoping to contribute to the Chamber?
Part of my business is understanding the needs of my customers. When you’re talking to your customers once or twice a week, you quickly get a feeling for the trading environment and the challenges they face. With a large proportion of my customers falling within the Bellingen Shire, I’m hoping to give a strong voice to them.
Having grown up in Bellingen, and having witnessed the ever-changing business environment in town over several decades, I have a vested interest in ensuring that all business stakeholders in the community are well represented, and are getting the best value for their individual investments.