Starting with $10k savings in 2004, losing it all and almost quitting now has $27m annual sales and 55 team members selling protein powders and other fitness products (Ben Crowley)

australia fte 51-100 online podcast sales $20m-$30m aud tasmania Mar 01, 2020

In this episode, I’ll have a conversation with Ben Crowley, the founder of online supplements retailer Bulk Nutrients. While teaching English in Japan, Ben saw a gap in the market with Australian customers paying so much more for protein powders and other fitness products. He launched his first business in Tasmania and quickly lost his entire $10,000 savings in a supply order. Almost giving up, he went to work for the government for a few years while he cashed back up and built a business, adding part timers until he quit and went full-time in 2011. Now with $27 Million in annual sales and 55 team members, Ben and his team have a strong focus on producing quality products in Tasmania instead of offshore, and have a fanatical focus on outstanding customer service. For many years they have been Australia Post’s number one customer in Tasmania and now the top 10 nationally for Express Post.

Bringing his wife, brother, and sister-in-law into the business in key roles has helped the business manage its fast growth and fend off the need for investors. Apart from a bank loan to buy the main warehouse they have been in since 2012 (and paying the loan off shortly after), funding has been from cash flow. Ben believes that the hardest thing in growing a small business is that with a  family business, one has to ensure they maintain good relationships inside and outside the business. Stay tuned and enjoy as he reveals how he went from bagging up raw protein powder in his home to running a $27 million Tasmanian success story by undercutting mainstream brands by up to 50 per cent.

This Cast Covers:

  • How Ben started Bulk Nutrients, how it makes money, and what the future looks like.
  • Serving people’s needs by creating a brand which focuses on very pure products.
  • The value of investing extra in a great quality product and the best customer service.
  • Bulk Nutrients’ range of products and what Ben picked from the 4-Hour Work Week. 
  • How important it is for Ben that they produce the highest quality supplements from Tasmania.
  • The key numbers that illustrate the business’ growth.
  • From $4 Million to $27 Million in annual turnover, 2 to 55 team members, and sustaining a 5 to 10% annual growth rate.
  • Building money up in stock and using turnover to fund the business.
  • The great leadership at Bulk and the contribution it has made to overall growth.
  • Uncovering a competitor who was cheating customers severely.
  • Ben’s amazing professional journey and his preference for a more casual honest approach to running things versus a corporate lifestyle.
  • Realizing that the product is far more than a physical product.
  • Connecting with customers and promoting the brand in a genuine way.
  • The number one habit a small business owner should develop and maintain.
  • Being attached to the staff and building a great company culture to facilitate growth.
  • Things you want to learn about versus things you should be learning.
  • Getting a lot of motivation from managing the whole product development experience.
  • Maintaining good relationships in and out of the business when it’s a family business.
  • Continuous learning and investing in employees all the time.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“When you pay less for service or product, the customer service is often equally as bad” – Ben Crowley

“The more professional your competition, the more input you need from people with a lot of business experience” – Ben Crowley

“You don’t have to be a big fan of marketing to market your company well” – Ben Crowley

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod https://incompetech.com. License: CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

 

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