Spud company expands to Killarney
FOR some they are simply spuds, the perfect accompaniment to a good steak, but for people like Kerry Lamb from Killarney’s Wickham Farms they are a core element of a successful business.
The vertically integrated Wickham Farms operation on the Southern Downs is one of Queensland’s largest potato growers and processors.
It has come a long way from the small operation that started in the old Killarney railway shed three decades ago, to become one of the main suppliers to Sizzler restaurants and several major supermarkets.
“Apart from Sizzlers, we also sell to the big grocery chains like Coles,” Mrs Lamb said.
“For us to be competitive at that level, we need to be as efficient in our processing as we can.”
The latter was one of the primary motivators for the company’s decision to expand its potato processing line in Killarney this year.
This major infrastructure development will boost the factory’s capacity and has the potential to create an additional 10 jobs at the plant.
On track to be finished by September, the new line will assist the processing arm of the operation to meet growing market commitments to retailers and wholesalers.
“That is why we committed to building the new processing line,” Mrs Lamb said.
“The Wickham Group is a truly integrated agribusiness.
“We grow the potatoes here in Killarney and also on our farms in Warwick, Atherton and Bundaberg.
“Our trucks then bring them to our Killarney plant for processing. Then we truck them to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.”
Mrs Lamb said the company had grown significantly in the 30 years since it started business.
Today they have around 20 staff at the Killarney plant, making the company one of the region’s largest employers.
They also operate a large-scale beef production enterprise.
But it is the potato operation and ability to process what they grow that ranks them among the most successful in the Queensland industry.
This week, Wickham Farms director Haydn Lamb, along with company secretary Kerry Lamb and process manager John Towells, walked Southern Downs Regional councillor Ross Bartley and the region’s economic development officer John Randall through their new extension.
“The beauty of the Wickham business model is the fact that they value add considerably to a basic farm commodity,” Mr Randall said.
“Not so long ago, spuds were spuds were spuds.
“They were then simply part of a basic household diet.
“Now, the consumer is a lot more demanding and Wickham Farms have met that demand.”
The new plant is expected to be fully operational by September.
Once finished, it will allow Wickham Farms to run double shifts, employing up to 30 staff dependent on business levels.
Meanwhile, next time you sit down to crispy potato skins at Sizzler chances are high they’re Wickham Farms’ produce.