A champion business

May 31, 2017

Honoured: John Mantovani from Mantos Produce said he was honoured for the business to be named champion.

Taking to the stage for the second time in one night at the Moira Shire 2017 Business Excellence Awards, Cobram’s John Mantovani said he was ‘‘blown away’’.

He was receiving the Business Champion award for his business Manto Produce, the overall award from the night, which recognised the best of the best in the region.

Earlier, Manto Produce also took out the Excellence in Local Produce award.

‘‘Now I’m really blown away,’’ he said.

‘‘That we even got nominated in the first place was mind-blowing, and then to win (the first award). This is just amazing.’’

Mr Mantovani thanked family and friends — especially his mum, who he forgot to acknowledge in his first acceptance speech.

‘‘To the local community and the businesses in the region, especially those who helped me out when I first started, thank you.

‘‘We like to do a lot in the community, especially with fundraising, because I like to think people would do the same for us.’’

As his family knew, running a business was not an easy task, Mr Mantovani said.

‘‘For me, it’s a dream come true,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m really excited to see where it will go and what we can do with it. I’ve got a passion for what I do and I’ll just keep doing it.’’

Congratulating Manto Produce on the award, Moira Shire Mayor Gary Cleveland said the business had demonstrated excellence in overall business practices, including staff development, community engagement, business planning, sustainable business practices, quality customer service, innovative problem solving and local economic impact.

‘‘Manto Produce have grown fresh stone and pome fruit in the local area for the past 25 years,’’ Cr Cleveland said.

‘‘In 2013 John Mantovani saw an opportunity to diversify and grow the business. Now their successful wholesale business supplies fresh, seasonal, locally grown fruit and vegetables to a variety of restaurants, pubs, cafes, child care centres and sporting clubs throughout the region.

‘‘The public are also able to buy fruit and vegetables direct from Manto’s Farm Gate Shop in Campbell Rd and have been part of the region’s Farm Gate Trail since 2015.

‘‘Manto Produce pride themselves on providing top quality service and are committed to helping grow, build and support other local producers, businesses and organisations within the local community.’’

Award a fresh and tasty treat

If you asked John Mantovani 10 years ago whether he could see himself standing on a stage to accept an award for business excellence, the answer probably would have been no.

His business, Manto Produce, was named winner of the Excellence in Local Produce award at Friday night’s Moira Shire 2017 Business Excellence Awards.

Presenting the award with sponsor Cobram and District Fruitgrowers Association representative Frank Gattuso, Cr Peter Lawless said Moira Shire was lucky to have such depth in local producers right across the shire.

‘‘It’s a real standard across the shire, and it shows there are a lot of great examples of the variety and quality from our producers,’’ Cr Lawless said.

The judges for the award noted Manto Produce’s passion for change in the horticulture industry and for its diversification.

Mr Mantovani said he started the business in an effort to be proactive about the local fruit industry and bringing it to the community.

‘‘So I went around to all the other producers and talked to them about this idea, to get their produce to the local people,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve been blown away by the support it’s received in the past few years.’’

Manto Produce began in 2013 and in the past four years, the wholesale business has grown considerably and now supplies fresh, seasonal and locally-grown fruits and vegetables to a variety of pubs, restaurants, day care centres and sporting groups.

With growing demand, they offer direct sales to the public and are on the Moira Shire Farm Gate trail.

‘‘We are a family business, so I’d like to thank my family and wife for all their hard work and their support and ideas, and for all their hard work through the season,’’ Mr Mantovani said.

He thanked his brother and father especially for starting the farm in the first place.

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