The Provedores – Managing Rapid Company Growth

A booming business is wonderful, but challenges arise when those all-important foundations are lacking.  Find out more about Sean Martyn coming on board as an external business adviser to The Provedores to critically assess their business and help them manage their rapid growth.

About the Business

The Provedores are a wholesale food business operating in three NSW locations; Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Newcastle. The Provedores currently employ 150 staff.  The team are headed by Ron Walker, Managing Director – Finance & IT, co-owns the business with Paul Sanders (Managing Director Sales & Operations) and Sarah Sanders (Marketing and Special Projects).

Working Relationship with Business by Design

February 2020 to present.


The key challenge Ron, Paul and Sarah were facing was rapid growth. While such growth was welcomed on one hand, many of the necessary building blocks were not yet in place to allow for the speed of which everything was happening.

For example, there were new customers, new employees, new systems, new locations and new infrastructure. Many of the components that business owners are familiar with implementing in stages all needed attention at the same time. This was proving extremely challenging for Ron and his two business partners to manage.

Sean Martyn from Business by Design came on board as an external business coach and was able to take a fresh look at the company and advise Ron and his colleagues on the best measures to take. Important changes were implemented right away, and Ron says he’s incredibly grateful to have had an independent person critically assess the business.

Significant Changes

Improvements were made across the board with changes to operational systems, financial systems, sales and marketing strategies, recruitment processes and more. Some further initiatives are outlined below.

 Investing in The Team

Ron Walker considers the people within The Provedores critical to its success. “As we’ve said on many occasions, in our industry we can all buy and sell products, it’s the people that make the difference from one business to the next.”

In light of that, Ron and his partners are now better able to recognise key people within the company and move them up the chain. Team members who are looking to grow with the business are identified and Sean is then involved in mentoring them. “It’s important not to overlook people along the way.” Ron says. “We’re not experts just yet but we’re working on it.”

Sean has also been an integral part in further developing the skill set of employees by facilitating conferences to enhance their knowledge (i.e. sales conferences).

The Importance of an Independent Voice

He may refer to himself as ‘the old bugger who’s been around a while’ but at 73, Ron brings much business nous and life experience to The Provedores. He says Paul and Sarah have complementary skills and the three owners and co-directors tend to stick with what they’re best at.

The three owners meet with Sean on a monthly basis. “We take ourselves outside of the business and have strategy meetings. “Together, we talk big picture stuff.” Following these discussions, the senior management team join in. “From there we will drill down a bit”, says Ron. “We’ll go into more detail, discuss monthly reports and cover any concerns. Sean will take a good look at everything and provide his expert advice.”

Outsourcing HR

From the outset, Sean and Business by Design helped The Provedores to improve their recruitment processes. This resulted in thorough systems being implemented with regards to on-boarding and staff reviews. Under Sean’s advisement, the business owners also took a different approach to recruitment. “It’s all about making sure we have the right people on the bus now.” Ron says that this also means staying open to taking on people because they can provide value to the business, rather than just hiring when a vacancy needs to be filled.

About 12 months ago, The Provedores decided to outsource all of their human resources to the Business by Design team. This has been a game-changer and frees them up to do what they do best in the wholesale food industry.

 Balance & Goal Setting

“Sean’s a big believer in balance.” Ron admits to having a lot of freedom with his time now and intends to take 12 weeks leave each year. Additionally, setting personal and business goals are part and parcel of Sean’s business coaching and Ron and his co-owners have embraced these initiatives.

Fantastic Outcomes

It was all about focus. Sean’s primary objective was to keep Ron and his fellow owners focused – the results of which have been outstanding. Between some strategic acquisitions and a sales growth plan, a 300% growth in turnover was achieved. Additionally, attention to range optimisation and key systems improvement means that margins are now in the top quartile of the industry. And last but not least, whilst the bottom line has grown exponentially, Ron, Paul and Sarah have achieved a better work / life balance and reduced stress.

What’s Next?

At 73 years of age, Ron Walker feels fortunate to be so fulfilled in his work. “I’m involved in the business because I want to be, not because I have to be.” There are exciting plans to grow the business. Expanding into the New England area in the latter part of this year is next on the horizon with ‘plenty more in store after that’. Ron acknowledges that Sean’s an important part of these growth opportunities.

As for those 12 weeks leave and achieving those all-important personal goals, Ron has an upcoming 5-week trip to the US and Canada. His four children and young grandson will be joining him for the Canadian leg in what will no doubt be a memorable family adventure.

Phone (02) 6658 0775