The passion behind Kollaras

Georgia Kollaras. Source: Supplied

Georgia Kollaras considers herself a proud Wollongong girl, who was born and bred amongst her family in the family business and the supportive Wollongong community.

She grew up with her mum, dad and younger brother Jonathon, but joining the family business was not something that Georgia aspired to do because she had other goals and dreams in mind. It was only after she joined the business to support her goals, that she fell in love with the Kollaras business and really began to understand how hard the company was working for its clients.

“Kollaras & Co really is a family business. It started with a tiny fruit shop, and my incredible grandfather in the late 60’s, and later down the track my father and uncle joined in their younger years; now my generation, the third one, is starting to make its way through the business. Its exciting times for us, as we continue to harness our success in the liquor game, and provide tobacco solutions to an even broader range of customers.

“My father and uncle are currently the directors of the business and I’m also fortunate to work with my cousin John, our current Managing Director. John is my absolute inspiration. Family values are a very important part of our business and they always will be. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, meaning we complement each other in different ways.

“One of the family rules in our business is that your surname gets you nowhere. Working for Kollaras & Co is simply a privilege… Not a right. You don’t get an opportunity unless you’ve earnt it, you must have the necessary skills and experience, and you must apply for a role the same as any other applicant would. It’s about having the right attitude and work ethic.

“I think that’s why we’ve been so successful; people know that as a Kollaras, you’ve earnt your position and people have trust in you because they feel supported, considering you have a deep understanding for their role. You can appreciate their challenges and triumphs. This means that we can be future focused; It’s not about what we do now, it’s about how we secure the next 50-100 years of business. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else.

“When I was growing up, I never even thought that I would be part of the business. I was lucky in my teenage years to take interest in a musical career, and was able to travel to world singing. My musical abilities took me to Asia, the United States, and Europe.

“I joined the business on a casual basis in an administrative role to support myself because I didn’t think it was right for dad to continue to pay for my lessons. But it was then that I fell head over heels in love with the Kollaras business and what we were doing for our customers. I loved understanding customer needs and providing them with solutions or alternate options. I loved the challenge of exceeding someone’s expectations, and the feeling of helping a customer overcome something became simply addictive.

“The most wonderful thing about working in our family business is that it’s rewarding. When you work with people you love, and your customers tell you that they’re benefiting from what you’re doing, it’s natural that you’re going to love your job. I’m inspired by everyone that works alongside us every day. My father always taught me to employ smarter people than you, and now that I am privileged to manage a great team, I truly understand what a great lesson that is.

“I can honestly say that I get out of bed every day and think to myself ‘I’m excited that I get to go to work today’; passion is the one word I’d use to sum up myself and the company.

“Our product portfolio has so many different products for different customers. It’s such a diverse range, that it’s difficult to pick a favourite. We treat these products like they are our children.           Providing our customers with exclusive brands remains at the forefront of our business today. Exclusive brands are seeing significant growth the world over due to their substantial benefits, so in our business it’s imperative that we continue to support customers with a great selection that they can depend on.

“Our brands proudly offer a high margin, a unique point of difference, and help our customers to build consumer loyalty – ultimately we have worked extremely hard to deliver a portfolio of products that can help our customers excel and maximise profit in whichever sector of the industry they operate in.

“The project that I am very proud of right now is the new independent only beer called “INDIE”. I have had the pleasure of seeing this product come to life from inception, from brand name, to design, production, building a strong marketing plan, and seeing the benefits it now offers retailers – its honestly been the most rewarding part of my career to date.

“Another product that I’m excited about is King Street, which was the first cab off the rank for our tobacco business. In fact, our whole tobacco portfolio is something that our business should be extremely proud of. We’ve been the exclusive distributors for tobacco companies in the past, so naturally have a prolific understanding of the tobacco world. It was when we really started developing a strategy for independents, that retailers began to recognise our talent in providing solutions.

Our liquor retailers were desperate for a point of difference with tobacco, so we developed a suite of independent-only brands to emulate our liquor strategy.

“When we introduced tobacco, we knew we had to offer tangible business benefits to our retail partners; We’d already done that in the liquor category, so we knew it was a recipe for success. Having gone to market with a solid solution for independents, we were ecstatic to see how quickly that business grew – it was literally an overnight success. We had people approaching us for business partnerships, which is the end-goal of companies who have operated in this sector for years.

“Right now, I’m relishing the moment as Marketing Manager; I’d ideally like to be on the executive board because I think I’d be able to contribute to the business in a long-term, strategic way and bring some fresh ideas to the table. Next for me is my Company Directors course, so I’d like to be a silent observer on the board of directors for the next couple of years, so that I can start to understand the business on a higher level. I plan on knowing this business inside out, so I can add the best possible value to its operating goals.

“For me, it’s not so much about what I want, it’s about what we can help our customers achieve. As cliché as that may sound, that’s truly the most rewarding part of this business. The real goal for us is to keep providing our customers with solutions; so, when customers tell us that we’ve a difference, that’s more rewarding than anything I could ever personally achieve myself.”



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