How TEC’s diverse member experiences and opinions transformed Caruso's Natural Health
'My mantra has always been, if you don’t know, ask – I’m a big believer in that. There’s always someone at TEC who can offer a new perspective on a business challenge…'
To be successful, you must surround yourself with successful people, which is what TEC is all about. My TEC group alone generates over a billion dollars in turnover a year and employs over 1,500 people. Each time I step into a TEC meeting I have the chance to learn and share ideas with some of the brightest, and hungriest, business minds in the country.
'While I had always looked after my finances well, I needed an external benchmark to understand if this was the limit of our potential? I wanted to push beyond ‘acceptable’ to know what my business could look like.'
I joined TEC in 2005 because I needed support – just because you are an entrepreneur and do well in business does not mean you have all the answers. I had questions and doubts about our approach to management, leadership, HR, and finance and needed an outside perspective to move the business forward.
Through my TEC group I’ve developed my knowledge and confidence as a business leader; learning about stock turns, paying dividends, what a good Ebit average is and how to build a professionally structured business.
'There's always a healthy mix of opinions held by those who own their business, and those who are CEOs – both offer valuable perspectives that have helped me to make more informed decisions.'
Over the years, I’ve found the insights from the women in my group fantastic because they have a completely different mindset from the men. It was the diversity of opinions from my group that allowed me to make one of the most critical decisions for my business with such conviction.
We were outgrowing our factory, and I was not sure if I should buy my own land and build my own factory, lease a larger site or buy an existing building.
The CEO perspective was to ‘not waste your money; just lease somewhere’, while the advice from the owners was to buy and build my own place because with more skin in the game it would change my mindset, energy and commitment to succeed.
For me, the owners were right. I bought the land, built the factory and immediately had to get stuck in to making it work, thinking of ways to fill the place up so it would generate enough income to pay the loans back. Without the backing of the group, I would have stayed where I was, which was comfortable but didn’t allow for growth. It’s easy when you’re on your own to get complacent, or even bored – your TEC group will push you to consider what is possible.
Growth and Guidance
'I've said several times at my TEC meetings that I wouldn't be in the position I am in today if it wasn't for the insights, support and guidance of my fellow members. I hope I’ve delivered as much back to my group too.'
TEC gives you the opportunity to go beyond the limits of your business. Your group is there to encourage you, challenge you and celebrate your success. There’s not a time I don’t leave our TEC meetings inspired, motivated and revitalised.
I remember saying to myself in my first TEC meeting, 'God, I’m so lucky to be involved in this.' Those first few meetings were confronting, but incredibly valuable. I was too content and needed a push to continue building something great, and TEC delivers just that.
In 1979 Frank Caruso’s life changed forever after reading a book on natural living. Frank was so inspired by the learnings in the book that he gave up his career to open a health food store and follow his dream in helping Australian’s live healthier lives. In 1995, Frank decided to create his own vitamin range called Totally Natural Products. In 2013, Frank decided to change the brand name to Caruso’s Natural Health and now there are over 100 products in the range.