A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE J C GRANGER AND SONS BUSINESS
The business of J C Granger and Sons commenced after World War One when the late James Charles Granger was awarded a Soldier Settlement Block at Kings Vale. The block consisted of a young mixed orchard and small timber cottage and a stable and feed shed with the balance of the land destined for either cropping or grazing.
James harvested his first prune crop about 1924 and in 1926 began to pack prunes under the JCG Brand name. Initially only bulk dried fruit was packaged however by 1930 James had commenced to pack prunes in to seven pound steel cans. The business environment was highly competitive with as many as 30 registered dried fruits packers in the early years. James took a keen interest in the orderly running of the industry and served on various regulatory boards.
James and his wife Marie had three children, two sons, D’Arcy and Ken and a daughter Catherine. After World War Two James became ill and died in 1947 just as the business was commencing to show real growth. His sons and widow took over the running of the business and later a partnership of D’Arcy and his wife Margaret and Ken and his wife Marie took over the business operation.
The business showed good growth and expanded from packing only prunes in cans or as dry bulk product to include the now fashionable supermarket plastic bags of prunes. The drying of other fruits including apricots, peach, nectarine, apple and pears was also commenced. During this period it was D’Arcy Granger who took on the responsibility of representing growers on various industry boards and regulatory authorities.
New building and plant and equipment were installed and a national sales and distribution network arrangement was put in to place. This was the hard work era in the development of the business and formed the basis for the present business structure.
In 1974 Ken and Marie sold their interest in the business to D’Arcy and Margaret and their two sons Jim and Jeff. The business continued to expand and held up to 8% of the national supermarket sales of prunes at one stage.
By 1990 only ten dried prune packers were left in Australia. During the 1990’s the effects of imported prunes started to cause problems within the Australian market. The 1990’s was a period of great change and saw the number of packers fall to just five.
With retirement of D’arcy and the death of Margaret Granger the business moved to the third generation with Jim and Jeff becoming the controlling partners in 2006.
From the mid 1970’s Jeff Granger commenced to represent the business and industry growers on the Dried Fruits, Board, the Australian Dries Fruits Association and marketing companies.
The 1990’s saw the eventual closed of Regulatory Boards and the opening of the market on a far more competitive basis. This put further pressure on packers and eventually only three packers remained Australia wide of which J C Granger and Sons was the smallest.
From the commencement of the business there have been only three people who have controlled the quality of the products produced by the business, James Charles Granger, D’Arcy James Granger and James Alan Granger.
In order to survive in a hostile market place J C Granger and Sons decided to divest themselves of their supermarket business and the JCG Brand to concentrate on Food Service and Catering business and also to expand their existing manufactured or value added range of products. This business is conducted under the Gourmet Farm and the Just Prunes brand names
The turn of the century saw the worst ever drought cause significant damage and tree loss for the business and J C Granger’s turned to overseas suppliers for their prune supplies when the national production of Australian prunes had fallen well below national demand.
The period from 1990 to 2008 has been the most difficult and testing period for the Australian prune industry. Although the three prune packers still remain in 2010, J C GRANGER and SONS is the only one that is still under original ownership.
In 2010, most of the orchards at J C Granger and Sons were bulldozed because of the effects of the drought leaving only about two thousand trees that are all under twenty years of age. Replanting is to commence immediately and the business aims to have about 5,000 trees in production by 2016.
In 2010 the business consists of a highly competitive Food Service and catering division for prunes with small sales in to supermarkets of manufactured prune products. All of the other dried fruits have been scaled back or deleted due to low cost import competition.
J C Granger and Sons has survived only by constantly changing its business focus to concentrate on the areas of production in which they specialize. The range of products which commenced at just one product in 1926 expanded to over thirty by 1980 and in 2010 has been reduced to about 12 products.
Current production included prunes in bulk, in steel cans, in plastic pails and in glass bottles and jars.
The big challenge now is to try to get the business past the 100 year mark.
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