When Ben Woodhouse and Dustin Boughton got together in 2003, they had an inkling of an idea about how they could make life easier for food manufacturers across Australia.
In May of that year, Maxum Foods was born and now the company employees more than 30 staff at its headquarters in Brisbane and dry blending facility in Melbourne.
“We saw a gap in the market due to multi-nationals, which although they are big, high-quality companies, they were slow movers,” said Woodhouse.
“Small to medium-sized customers usually order products for delivery the next day. What we found was that some multi-nationals and even distributors, were slow to move to accommodate these customers. They were missing a big niche and were letting customers down. That really made us start the bones of Maxum Foods – to add a level of service to not only help customers but the big suppliers, too.
“What has happened over time is that we have grown so organically, and we do so much volume, that we also now appeal to the multi-nationals,” he said.
“All of these multi-nationals are using us because we cannot only service to those levels, but we are competitive because we buy so much volume.”
Over time, Maxum has developed what it calls ‘eight value pillars’ that not only drive the company’s business, but that of its customers, too.
Incorporating part of the company name, these pillars are MaxComplete, MaxReach, MaxTech, MaxFX, MaxConnect, MaxIQ, MaxPerform and MaxSafe.
But what do these values encompass?
MaxComplete means the company is a one-stop dairy shop.
Any manufacturer that requires a range of dairy ingredients can go to Maxum Foods as the one supplier of these products.
It means they don’t have to have open accounts with five or six other companies. They have one point of contact.
“A good example is one of our customers on the Gold Coast. They are a major repacker of dairy products and they use a whole range of milk powders,” said Woodhouse.
“Generally, they would have to go to three or four different manufacturers to source each different powder, buy instead, they come to us and have only one account.
“We can go out and source all dairy products. Anything from butters and fats to cheese and milk powders. As long as it is a dairy ingredient that gets used in food manufacturing,” he said.
MaxReach refers to the global reach of the company. Maxum Foods sources most of its product from Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, the US and Canada.
This is one of the main reasons, the multi-nationals in particular, work with them, said Woodhouse.
“For example, when dealing with a multinational, we’ll get at least one product approved from each continent for them to choose from,” he said. “That gives them complete scope.
“As long as we approve a high-quality product for them, then we can give them the most competitive source whenever their contracts get renewed. We do all that work for our customers.
“We get the import permits done with the Australian government so the customer only needs to place an order and we deliver it,” said Woodhouse.
As the name suggests, MaxTech involves Maxum providing technical solutions to its customer base. The company has a technical manager and his role is to help customers – whether it be recipe formulations or product substitution advice.
“A lot of the companies we deal with have a number of QA, research and development teams,” said Woodhouse.
“They’re working behind the scenes to improve their products all the time and our job is to assist them. It is not to replace their roles. But some companies will take us in whole heartedly. They will want a full project management from us, while other companies will just use us for advice.”
MaxFX is not about special effects, but about Maxum offering its customers different pricing options. Maxum does this by using derivatives markets – the CME in America, the NZX in New Zealand and the EEX in Europe. Because most suppliers of dairy products don’t offer long-term pricing – they only offer quarter by quarter – Maxum uses the derivatives to offer long-term prices for its customer.
“Locking in these prices allows our customers to focus on what they do best, which is make high quality food products,” said Woodhouse. “We take the risk and volatility out of the pricing for that period of time,” he said.
Then there is MaxConnect, which is basically the collection of detailed operational information about our customers.
“Over the past 15 years we have built what we think is a very bespoke CRM system, which is all around food manufacturers,” said Woodhouse.
“That means that the information we hold on each one of our customers and our suppliers is extremely detailed. Their product might need to be halal, it might need to be kosher. We have all the information required by the customer. What quality systems they have in place and what is required.”
MaxIQ is all about sharing market intelligence with its customers. The company communicates with dairy companies all over the world – New Zealand, Europe and the US – on a daily basis. It collates all the information it receives into a user friendly format and shares the information with its customer base to allow them to make better procurement decisions.
MaxPerform speaks for itself, said Woodhouse. One of the major reasons the company was born was that its customers needed ingredients delivered on time, in full (DIFOT).
“They don’t want to have to worry about getting their ingredients, or their ingredients are late, or they didn’t receive the whole order,” said Woodhouse. “Max Perform is all about DIFOT requirements.”
Finally, there is MaxSafe, which is all about food safety. Maxum Foods has two people in its QA team. For the first 10 years of its existence, the company didn’t have a QA division – it relied on the QA divisions of its suppliers.
“If they were supplying the butter, then we would rely on our suppliers ticking all the boxes and crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s,” said Woodhouse. “But what we found was that the more suppliers we were dealing with the more issues came up where product would come in and it would be out of spec. Our QA division makes sure the product is within spec which gives the customer peace of mind that what they have ordered and approved is what they are receiving. It’s a lot of work, which is a straight out cost to the business, but the feedback we have from our customers is that it eliminates so much work from their end. So, the value that gives us across our 500 odd customers in Australia and New Zealand wide means we think it is worth us investing in, to make our customers happy.”