Pristine Oyster Farm is a family owned-and-operated business located at Coffin Bay, South Australia. The business originated with owners and brothers Nick and Brendan Guidera. Both had been involved in the fishing industry, on and off, for many years. They shared a love of being on the water, and when Nick got his hands on some oyster-leases in nearby Franklin Harbour, Brendon was keen to get involved.
When the business was first formed, it was relatively early in the history of the oyster industry in South Australia. In the 20-odd years since, Brendan branched out to Coffin Bay, while still working in partnership with Nick, who remained in Franklin Harbour. Nowadays, they move their stock between the two leases to optimise growth rates and conditioning.
Doing the right thing
Roughly seven years ago, Pristine Oyster Farm evolved to start directly exporting from their property in Coffin Bay. They had to invest quite a lot of money and resources to make that evolution happen, and to earn the necessary exporting approvals. Fortunately, that investment has more than paid off. Today, about 60 per cent of the company’s oysters now wind up offshore, with about 90 per cent of that going to a customer in Hong Kong.
According to Brendan, they have attracted the attention of customers like that Hong Kong one – as well as their customers domestically – due to their prime location.
“Coffin Bay is regarded as one of the best places in Australia for oysters – if not the best,” he says. “The fact that we have water there certainly plays a big part in why people choose us. The oysters here are just very good.”
That location – plus their ability to export directly – only gets customers in the door, however. To keep them there, and to earn their loyalty, Pristine Oyster Farm backs up their quality with strong service.
“You need to do the right thing by the customer,” Brendan explains. “You need to consistently give them good stock, and you have to do your best to consistently supply them. Of course, in return they need to do the right thing and pay regularly and on time. If that happens, you can form a really strong relationship, and that’s what we do.”
“It also pays to catch up with your customers every once in a while,” he adds. “And not just over the phone – you can always learn a little bit more by sitting down with your customer face to face.”
Brendan cites their relationship with their customer in Hong Kong as a good example of the kind of positive customer relationship they forge. Brendan likes to travel there and check in at least once a year. As a result, that relationship has lasted more than seven years.
Pristine Oyster Farm also has strong relationships domestically. They’ve been dealing with a customer in Perth for nearly 20 years, for example, and have been dealing with another customer in Melbourne for nearly as long.
So the company’s service backs up the quality of their product. But in return, Brendan says the quality of their product backs up their service.
“Customer loyalty always goes back to the product,” he says. “Customers can’t have a successful business unless they have something worth selling. So you have to make sure you’re giving them good stock. And you have to make sure you’re giving them value for money.”
Pristine Oyster Farm’s quality has a lot to do with Coffin Bay, but that’s not the whole story. To ensure that natural quality shines through, they have implemented modern, efficient processes and practices, especially when it comes to exporting. They have also earned accreditations for quality assurance, and have generally strived to be in control at all times.
“Everything we sell we grow ourselves,” Brendan says. “We know everything that’s going out the door, and we inspect everything before it gets sold. We also do the exporting ourselves, so we can make sure product is delivered fresh worldwide.”
That quality is also ensured by the company’s team – which includes both their direct staff and the suppliers they work with. Many of those people, on both sides, have been working with Brendan and Nick for a decade or longer.
“Our team is absolutely critical,” Brendan says. “We have people good at what they do, and we have pretty good relationships with all of our main suppliers and service providers. They make sure that the quality never slips.”
The company’s quality assurance has been rewarded by the industry many times over the years. In 2009, for example, they won three medals at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. In 2010, they won three more, plus a Producer of the Year award from the Produce Awards. They continued that winning streak every year onwards, including 2013, when they won four awards at the Fine Food Spring Show for their high quality oysters.
Moving forward, Brendan predicts they will continue to bring home those kind of accolades. He says those will come simply as a result of their quality – which he says they will always maintain. Beyond that, he says they have recently started growing Angasi oysters, which are usually grown overseas in Europe, in countries like France. At the moment, however, a bacteria pollution is making it hard to produce on their beaches.
“But it’s not that difficult in Australia,” Brendan says. “We’re still learning how best to do it, but I think there is strong potential for our native Angasi to be sold around the world. I’d like that to be a big part of our business.”
For more information, please visit their website at: Pristine Oyster Farm
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