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.