ACO News – November



Well, just into my fourth month and starting to get my head around the real ACO.  We have a MAFF (ie JAS) audit coming up in November so that will be a good chance to get a better insight into just how all our compliance systems are managing.

Overview of Month

This month has seen a number of things happen:  Elizabeth Bradley has moved on to new horizons; Christine Cole, our Certification Administration Officer, has returned to the family business and Claudia Tull, our Receptionist, is moving to NSW with her family.

In my last report, I said I would outline a series of changes that have been submitted to the Board for implementation.   While the business aspect of ACO is fundamentally very sound, our service delivery and client communications did require some tweaking.  The changes were also designed to align with what we see the ACO of five to ten years time, will look like.  The changes made include:

  • A restructure of management positions
  • A realignment of Position Descriptions ensuring better understanding of what staff roles are
  • The creation of a new position, ACO General Manager Operations to whom the Certification Manager will report to
  • The creation of a specialist Business Development role
  • The return of the Client Services Manager to ACO (was formerly AO)

Along with this, we will see a number of new staff members begin employment with us.

Sachin Ayachit, formerly GM Certification at NASAA Certified Organic will start with us as General Manager Operations and Matthew Bird will start as Certification Manager.  In addition to these two, a new Business Development Manager will be starting in December.  The BD role is to build relationships with all levels of the organic supply chain but more specifically, with grass roots operators in order to build interest in certified organics and then to turn that interest into new applications.  Two new Admin Staff will also be starting in the next two weeks to replace Christine and Claudia.

The travel budget is getting a bit of a hiding.  Since the last newsletter, I have been to both Sydney and Melbourne meeting with existing clients and re-establishing my contacts within the Australia China Business Council who are an intricate cog in developing market access to China.  With AOL Director, Kim Morgan, we travelled to Western Australia to meet up with a number of clients plus attend the two Industry Consultations on the new Peak Industry Body.   Thanks to those Margaret River clients who made the trip into town to catch up for dinner, I really appreciated your efforts.  Also, a big thanks to Duncan Harris who made his Cellar Door available to the consultants engaged to conduct the Consultation meetings.  Thanks Duncan, nice wines too!

Thanks also, to all those wonderful members, clients and supporters who turned up at the two client evenings.  One here at the offices in Brisbane and one in Sydney at Pana Chocolate in Alexandria. Thanks especially to Pana for the use of your facility and to all those wonderful certified clients who provided wines, beers, soft drinks, pizzas, finger foods and all the other amazing stuff that we ingested.  Thank you, we very much appreciate your support.

By now, you will have seen or heard of the motion being put to the Members of Australian Organic Limited at the AGM on the November 17 regarding the separation of the two companies.  From a certification viewpoint, this will not affect the way in which we deliver our services or affect ACO clients in any way at all.  In fact, if you hadn’t been told, you would be none the wiser as it does not affect certification in any way.   In fact, at a corporate and strategic level, it will give ACO much more autonomy and allow us to be more flexible and agile in our business ventures. It will also allow AOL to take a much more strategic role within the Australian organic industry.

So after my first quarter at the helm, I am feeling somewhat buoyed by the vibe and enthusiasm within the organic industry and the role that AO and ACO can and will be playing within that industry.  We have had two client nights in the time that I have been here, one in Brisbane and one in Sydney, and the feedback about client businesses, client attitude and business morale, has been very positive.  I look forward to helping you all maintain that positivity.

All the best.   Ben Copeman, Chief Executive Officer.