Home' Convenience and Impulse Retailing : April May 2012 Contents 9
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C&I CONVENTION & EXPO 2013 | MELBOURNE | 13 14 MARCH 2013
in case the milk bar was a disaster.
My ten year old sister looked after my
older brother and four year-old me
while Mum and Dad worked. With
their loan payed o in just twelve
months, Dad was won over and came
into the milk bar business.
"They were old fashioned merchants,
with well-presented stock and the
shop always spotlessly clean. Dad
would not allow anyone to speak
Italian in the shop, because he said
it was rude to the English speaking
customers. In those days, the Italian
community in Cobram was very
closed, with many refusing even to
learn English. Dad was the reverse
and embraced all things Australian.
He stamped a lot on my life and had
a very clear notion of right and wrong
and how people should be treated.
"I got interested in retailing in my first
job, which was as a $3.60 a week
paperboy at age twelve. I'd always
deliver the paper to the front step
if the weather looked like rain. In
my first year on the job, I put little
hand written Christmas messages
on cards on every paper I delivered
just before Christmas. The result was
a staggering $36 in tips (ten weeks'
wages!), plus five blocks of chocolate,
two hankies and a bunch of cards.
The most important gift of all was
the lesson I'd just got in customer
ser vice. Its about exceeding the
customers expectations and not just
"Our parents were fanatical about
education and we all did well at
school. The education thing has stuck
with me. I did an Associate Diploma
in Food Retailing at the Footscray
Institute of Technology and later a
Master of Business Administration by
distance education as well as dozens
of specialty courses.
"I met my wife Angie when she
crashed my twenty first birthday party
with a group of my friends. I fancied
her in rather quick time. She was
from an Italian family in Lalor and,
three years later, my old Mum was
secretly delighted when I married an
"Well before that time, in 1982, I'd
joined Coles as part if industrial
training in my diploma course,
then moved to Woolworths after
graduation for a better salary and
became a second tier manager,
involved in setting up new stores.
They moved me around a bit,
which meant a lot of long distance
commuting and time away from
home. After being forced to return
early from my honeymoon to relay
the store I was stationed in Angie
Advice for suppliers
• Recognise the damage that you are doing in your pursuit of
• Supermarkets don't promote brands, so you must understand the
importance of retail channels that value and protect your brands.
• Never forget that the route trade is the nursery of your business,
without trial and brand loyaty forged in the route trade you end
up competing on price.
Advice for retailers
• Pretend you're a customer and walk outside your store and have a
good hard look at it. Would you shop there?
• Know and greet your customers by name. Get involved with your
local community and become a part of it.
• If you can, own your business premises. It will give you a whole
new mindset about presentation and pride in your business.
Advice for government & policy makers
• Recognise that small businesses are PEOPLE and are not experts in
• Nobody would expect a primary student to do what a university
student does so stop hitting them on the head when they get it
"I really enjoyed
customers; I got
a big buzz out
gently pointed out that our whole life
was starting to revolve around my
work, and she was right."
In 1987, Domenic joined Smiths and
worked his way through various roles.
He said that Smiths invested a lot in
training in those days and, during
his eleven year stay, he got involved
in training as well as account and
area management, mostly in the
"I found that I really enjoyed working
with and helping customers; I got
a big buzz out it. I also found I had
a bit of a talent for identifying and
mentoring good future managers."
He then moved on through various
roles as State Manager, National
Account Manager and Account
Manager with McPhersons, HWI and
Nylex, as well as several roles in the
foodser vice industry.
"My last job before CAMBA was
at Nylex where I wasn't happy
because I didn't like the direction
the company was going. To me you
sell yourself and your company and
then the products seem to look after
themselves. If you're not proud of
your company, you can't sell anything
with sincerity. I can't anyway.
Heart and soul
"So I asked myself what were
the things I enjoyed doing most.
Thinking it through, I realised that I
most enjoyed helping store owners,
coaching and mentoring people,
making presentations and getting
involved with training. Then I got a
call from CAMBA, who's former ED
was retiring. I did a panel interview in
front of the Board and was o ered
the job. This might sound a bit
evangelical, but it looked to me that
everything I'd ever done in previous
roles was a preparation for this
"The last two years have been very
hard on smaller retailers, largely
as a result of major retail chains'
cross-marketing. They are not
competing with each other any more.
They are attacking other channels,
small businesses in particular. When
a big box supermarket, a Maccas and
a KFC open in a country town, at
least a dozen small family businesses
die. They are destroying the fabric of
"It is unbelievable that so many of
our members find it cheaper to
buy from Supermarkets than from
wholesale suppliers. That's because
the manufacturers are pricing high
to independents in order to subsidise
their supermarket business. This
drives up prices at independents,
which also allows the supermarkets
to charge more. There's no future in
that for the consumer.
"Mind you, a lot of smaller retailers
aren't helping themselves either.
Too many stores are poorly
presented, often messy and usually
badly merchandised. Many are run
by ethnic families as the only option
they have for participating in the
commercial life of this country.
Very few invest in any training and
even fewer have any concept of
industry benchmarking or category
management. They need help
because these are the stores that
help make living communities what
"CAMBA has a lot to o er, from a
magazine and newsletters to a 300
member buying group* plus our own
store branding scheme. We also have
a full HR and wage advice service
and provide discount insurance,
electricity, EFTPOS services. There
are two of us always out and about,
helping retailers. We'll soon be
announcing a brand new cross dock
system for smaller stores, which will
take CAMBA to a national level.
Domenic and Angie have twenty-one
year old daughter studying nuclear
medicine and a fifteen year old son at
school. Domenic tries to spend time
camping out in the bush whenever
possible with his son and a few family
members and mates.
"It's amazing what you can learn
around a camp fire", he says.
His other passion is working with
timber. He has a large two-storey
man cave at home, busting with every
kind of power tool.
"I built some of the furniture in the
house myself and I just love working
with wood. That's what I'll end up
doing in retirement. But retirement is
a way o yet, because there's a lot to
be done. Times are hard, that makes
it challenging and also very exciting."
* (See Feb 2012 Issue of C&I. ED)
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