Owners of Queensland dried fruit company, Gin Gin & Dry, Mr Dean studied at the Waurn Ponds college from 1997 to 1999 and Mrs Dean from 1999 to 2001.
Earlier this year their company was awarded a $500,000 Coles grant, which will be used to build an innovative fruit drying facility, in turn trebling its production and eventually employing an extra 20 locals.
The couple has come a long way since moving from Queensland to Victoria, opting to study at Marcus Oldham due to its strong reputation as a leading agricultural and business management college. “I had contacts and a cousin who went there before me, so I made the decision to go down,” said Mr Dean, who recalls the real-life exposure to the industry that the course provided.
“We were able to get out on farm and do a lot of tours, talking to growers and business people, and just getting a broad understanding of what makes these businesses operate.”
Mr Dean said because he and most of his fellow students were living on college, he left with friends for life, many of whom he is still in close contact with and catches up with on a regular basis.
After graduating from Marcus Oldham, the Deans went into partnership in a Mundubbera citrus company, and when that didn’t prove successful they used their Marcus Oldham connections to secure work at Victoria-based olive company, Boundary Bend Limited, Mr Dean in charge of capital development and Mrs Dean working in accounts.
After spending three years working for the company, the couple decided it was time to do something for themselves. “We advertised for a business back up here (Queensland) and eventually saw this place,” said Mr Dean. “The business was a little tired and run down, but we thought it had potential so that’s what we did.”
“For the first three or four years we were working every day – as you do when you’re trying to kick something off – but eventually it has come round and we’re starting to kick some goals.”