tna co-founder talks cashflow, acquisitions & fighting patent litigation, as firm celebrates 33 years as ‘Australian icon’

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Husband and wife team, Nadia and Alf Taylor, co-founders tna
Husband and wife team, Nadia and Alf Taylor, co-founders tna
tna celebrates its 33rd anniversary this year and was recently recognised as an ‘Australian icon’ in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Australia, for its innovation in the food industry.

Entrepreneurs from more than 145 cities in over 60 countries took part in the scheme with more than 100 entrepreneurs competing in five regional programmes around Australia.

Florigo acquisition, the Netherlands

Thanks to its recognition, the company now qualifies for entry into the national Australia award next month. The national winner will represent the country and compete in the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo in June 2016.

Nadia Taylor, co-founder/director, tna told FoodProductionDaily she is aged 62 now and has no plans to retire.

I don’t think I will ever retire. I have a lot of contact with many of our customers all over the world. I’d like to continue that because I love meeting the people we do business with, getting to know them and build up that trust between one another​,” she said.

Talking about setting up the business in 1982 and how it has grown since then, acquiring five companies in the last four-and-a-half years, the most recent being Florigo, in Woerden, The Netherlands,  where they launched one the world’s largest fryers for French fries​ this month, Taylor said: “It’s amazing what we have achieved with the help of our team.”

The biggest change within the industry over those 33 years has been speed of equipment, also the performance of the equipment has changed dramatically, we had a fair bit to do with that, with the vertical form fillers and seal baggers. Now we just have the one major competitor which is Ishida​.

Did I ever imagine it would grow like this? I said I wanted to build a dynasty and I guess we are almost there with five factories worldwide, 28 offices and we now employ 350 peopl​e.

It’s a real dream that has come true. So many people were negative about what we could achieve when we first started the business. They said we were crazy and it wouldn’t succeed. They said you cannot package chips at 80 bags per minute, because they are light and float. It’s just as well we didn’t take their comments on board​.”

Fighting patent litigation

According to Taylor, the biggest challenges the company faced was cashflow at the beginning followed by patent litigation.

As you know, one court case got to the House of Lords​. It was an important case to win for us because it was against Ishida. That was unbelievable when we won that, we won the appeal and they took it to the House of Lords​,” she added.

Another challenge in itself is growing a company through acquisitions and trying to organise several branches in different countries.

We would not take up a new product unless we believe we can improve the innovation of it like the Robag - that was revolutionary. We don’t want to buy a company ‘to reinvent the wheel’ we’re better off acquiring companies that complement our total line. We foresee more acquisitions in the future and we are coming up with our own innovations. The next one will be a big thing, to be announced next year.​”

Talking about the firm’s geographical reach, Taylor said America is a huge market and it wants to expand there and open an office in Russia.

Factbox

tna acquisitions

  • March 2011: Arcall supplier seasoning & cutting systems
  • June 2012: Cadalec Controls electrical control systems
  • May 2014: FOODesign food processing systems
  • March 2015: Florigo French fry processing and vacuum frying and Ferguson (freezing & drying) - part of Florigo

Not resting on her laurels, the busy mother-of-four (including two step children), still calls Sydney home and travels at least once a month to various destinations via economy class. Her next trip will be to Dubai in the Middle East.

I was cautious at first about being a female entrepreneur when we started selling in the Middle East. But it has proven to be a positive experience and our clients cannot do enough for me​,” she said.

It’s interesting to see the diverse flavours of snacks across the world. If you travel to Latin America or Mexico you find unusual flavours of chips there; lemon, chili, or where one of the products has a unique strong flavour in a pack like playing Roulette. It’s not up to us it’s up to the manufacturer, we sell the equipment and our customer decides what product they want to package​.

I’m interested in the PR side of the business, marketing, administration, customer relationships, new acquisitions, but technically I’m not an engineer. I speak four languages when I’m travelling, English, Italian, French, Arabic and I understand Spanish and Maltese, it helps when you’re visiting customers because they appreciate the effort in understand their culture and speaking the same languag​e.”

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