Giving business wings

After a long career in the police force, Herb Smith returned to his hometown of Wellington in country NSW with a business idea: he would take his grandmother’s lemon myrtle biscuits to the world. With the support of Westpac, Herb is bringing his dream to life. With Qantas as his first major corporate customer Herb is planning to grow his Dreamtime Tuka business while strengthening his community’s foundations.

When Herb was a child growing up in Wellington, his grandfather’s voice would echo across the yard, calling out to his grandchildren, “Come home for your tucker kids”. After they ate he’d say “With all that food in your bellies, you’ll have good dreams”.

These memories have stayed with Herb for some fifty years and later when he returned home to Wellington, after a 32 year career in the police force, he set up a new business inspired by his grandmother’s lemon myrtle biscuits.

“It was like my grandfather sent me a message,” said Herb. “That’s when the name ‘Dreamtime Tuka’ struck me”.

Since then, Dreamtime Tuka, a 100% Aboriginal owned native Australian bushfood supplier, has flourished. With his grandmother’s recipe in hand in 2015, Herb pitched his range to Qantas. And like his family before him, Qantas liked what they tasted. They placed an initial order of 150,000 coconut lemon myrtle slices to serve on all domestic flights in Australia.

“Getting the call from Qantas – it was the most awesome feeling. It was a massive break. But I was still at the start of this journey and before I could say yes, I needed to make sure I had the means to see it through,” said Herb.

So Herb visited the Westpac branch in Dubbo and met with Jessica Weber, a Personal Business Banker. He was taking a chance, because he hadn’t banked with Westpac until that point, but he knew he was in the right place when he was connected via video conference to the Business Banking team in Sydney and then later referred to Irfan Kureshi, a Senior Business Banker. With Irfan’s help, Herb secured the backing he needed and with the support of a large baking manufacturer in Dubbo was able to fulfil the order.

“Without Westpac’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to accept Qantas’ order. Dreamtime Tuka wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Based on customers’ enthusiastic response, Qantas put in its second order for a further 350,000 of Herb’s bush plum slices. And Herb’s extending his Indigenous Australian inspired range beyond slices, biscuits, muffins and chocolates to include savoury treats such as chicken and qandong pie and lamb and river mint pie. Next on the agenda is the launch of a range of flavoured water.

While this has been a great story for Herb, it’s been even better news for Wellington.

“Dreamtime Tuka belongs in Wellington and my vision is to set up a manufacturing base to grow from here. Through Dreamtime Tuka, I want to create opportunities for the young people of this community, to inspire them to think big and to follow their ideas and dreams,” said Herb.

“When I was a kid I couldn’t have imagined I would own a business. And to be building a business that pays tribute to my grandparents, it’s something that I’m very proud of. And something they’d be proud of too.”

For Herb and Dreamtime Tuka, this is just the beginning.

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