Due for some warm fuzzies? We chat to The Star’s produce wholesaler, CEO of Simon George & Sons, Ben George about the care packages they delivered to hospitality workers doing it tough during the 2020 lockdown.
No stranger to the significant impacts caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, Ben George of Simon George & Sons says the revenue of the family-run business dropped by 70 per cent at the start of the pandemic this year. But that didn’t stop the altruistic company – which has been run by four generations for more than 90 years– giving back to their loyal community of clients.
“We have a strong business model and even though our business was doing it tough, we knew that there were others who really needed help,” Ben says. Servicing an Australia-wide client base – delivering wholesale fruit and vegetables to hospitality and other large companies including all of The Star Entertainment Group properties – meant the company could see how the differing restrictions state-by-state affected individuals and businesses.
“It was important for us to stay in touch with the people who have been on the journey with us and give them a small token of thanks for their support over the years,” says Ben about the idea behind giving back to their community with care packages for clients in need.
The boxes contained an array of fresh fruit and vegetable that could last a family of four several days – including bananas, potatoes, apples, carrots, tomatoes and lettuce, as well as eggs and juice. “Recipients were our clients, past and present and it wasn’t just the kitchen staff but the entire workforce. We encouraged clients to reach out and our message throughout was ‘don’t be shy to ask’,” says Ben.
The packages were a welcome relief to stood-down workers and also supported the local growers – who were able to continue their supply chain. It also meant that the Simon George & Sons drivers could stay on the road, delivering care packages to grateful recipients.
“Our goal was to support as many of those in need as we could, some had one box, and others had one box per week for a couple of months. We delivered 5000 care packages over the space of a couple of months to all corners of Australia.”
Caring for the community has been a core value upheld by the team at Simon George & Sons and, Ben says, this was the perfect opportunity to show thanks to the people who have supported them over the years. “Our individual branches invest heavily in supporting all things local and it is integral to our business that we play such a large part in our local communities,” Ben says.
Although the company isn’t yet back to business as usual – as many aren’t – the positive feedback from recipients of the care packages bolstered staff during a rough time.
“I remember one of our drivers coming to me in tears one day after delivering a care package to a single mother who was struggling to feed her children, he was overwhelmed and heartbroken for her young family. I reminded him that he should be proud that he can play such a huge part in helping them get by and we continued to take that family a care package every week,” says Ben.
Images courtesy of @1oh1media