NAB senior leaders take a closer look at Australia’s trade and export sector – providing all-important insights into how regional and agribusinesses can best respond to today’s challenges and opportunities.
Whether it’s the wool in its bedding products or the employees who make them, this regional icon is deeply proud of its commitment to keeping things local.
The guiding principle behind every business decision Darren Turner has made for the past 25 years as the Managing Director of iconic Australian quilt and bedding maker MiniJumbuk can be summed up with just one word: quality.
“That’s pretty much the first big decision we make if we’re going to do something,” he says.
A resolute commitment to prioritise quality over all else has seen the regional South Australian company through both lean times and good, building strong customer loyalty and sales.
MiniJumbuk was founded in 1975 and has built a business model around using premium locally sourced Australian wool to produce a sought-after range of quilts, pillows and mattress toppers, harnessing the pride and loyalty of a skilled workforce predominantly from its hometown of Naracoorte.
Undoubtedly, the company could reduce its costs and grow volume by importing cheaper synthetic materials for its fillings, or manufacturing offshore.
But for a company built around a quintessentially Aussie name and figurehead, the Jumbuk sheep, that would break a promise to the customers who keep coming back for MiniJumbuk’s renowned warmth, comfort and attention to detail. The ‘Australian Made’ logo on each product is also a treasured point of difference in a market flooded with imports.
“When you go cheaper, it just pulls everything down. Keeping quality as your number one, you’re pulling everything up to that quality,” Darren says. “We’ve actually made more money by saying no to certain things than we have by saying yes to everything.”
It’s a philosophy born of hard lessons. The company fell on lean times in the late 1980s when it tried to grow too quickly. An attempt to target the lucrative Chinese export market in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 provided another learning moment. “We had a big boost, but we didn’t really manage or control the brand in China,” Darren says.
“We’ve come right back now to reassessing that and starting from scratch again, to play what I call the long game. Where do we want the brand to be in five years’ time? We’re not chasing big sales up front. We’re chasing sustainable repeat business in the future.”
Part of that long-term play is a more than 40-year partnership with NAB. “We’ve had some challenges but they’ve stuck with us. They have a strong local presence and it’s been a really productive relationship,” Darren says.
NAB Business Banking Manager for Naracoorte, Trudy Johnson, says assured leadership is key to MiniJumbuk’s success. “Darren is always striving to innovate and redefine to produce the exceptional quality achieved in every single product,” she says.
MiniJumbuk enthusiastically embraces its Naracoorte roots. “Being based in a regional community just works for every part of our brand, and has become part of our DNA,” Darren says.
“We’re an important part of this Naracoorte community, and I think Naracoorte likes us being part of their community. We love being here.”
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