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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Joyce Ceravolo

Business

Fourth-generation agriculturalists Joyce Ceravolo and her brother Joseph increased the turnover of SA apple juice company Ashton Valley Fresh by nearly a third in five years.

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Joyce Ceravolo was recognised last week as a member of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 for 2019, and the winner of the Rural and Regional Award – presented by Piper Alderman.

Ceravolo’s great grandfather Antonio Ceravolo came to Adelaide from Italy in 1950 before he and wife Maria bought a property in Ashton, dubbed Valle di Sant’Antonio.

Generations of Ceravolos helped grow potatoes, onions, cauliflowers, cabbages, apple trees and cherries there.

Ashton Valley Fresh began selling apple juice in 2008 and in 2013 Joyce and Joseph took over the reins of the company.

Over five years, they increased its turnover by 30 per cent – despite the introduction of a competitor in their market and local area.

In addition, they have managed a continual improvement program for the company, overseeing facility and equipment upgrades and lowering the environmental impact of Ashton Valley Fresh’s operations.

Joyce – who has Law and Chemical Engineering degrees – was last year elected vice chair of the board of Apple and Pear Growers South Australia and also won the South Australian Food Industry “Next Generation” Award.

Below, Ceravolo offers her thoughts on doing business in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

Not to spend my time looking over my shoulder. A quick glance now and then is fine, but it’s important to keep pushing forward on your own path without comparing yourself to your competitors all the time and concerning yourself about what they’re up to. As long as you ensure you’re a market leader, and always at the top of the game, let them chase you. 

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

People here are passionate about supporting South Australian businesses. Their parochial nature is unparalleled. They will be fierce advocates for products produced in their state. The business-to-business networks in South Australia are another huge strength. We seem to take on an attitude generally of being collaborative and competitive, and understand that helping someone grow their business isn’t going to shrink one’s own. There is so much potential for growth and disruption in South Australia and I’m passionate about this state meeting its potential.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

We’re a little underrated, unfortunately, and jobs here don’t tend to have the prestige that jobs in Melbourne and Sydney have attached to them. We tend to lose higher-profile leaders to other states.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

Absolutely! As businesspeople, and personally, we have so much passion for South Australia and all that it offers in terms of business opportunities, the lifestyle, the ideal climate for apple growing and the fierce customer base. For me, the like-minded – and progressive – fellow businesspeople in South Australia, the opportunities it offers and the massive potential for growth and continuous improvement in all industries will keep me here.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

We need to nurture our young people, make them feel valued and as though they have an important voice. We could offer them further education in South Australia – free MBA’s for all our young leaders! We also need to sell our state’s attributes better. South Australia represents an easy family lifestyle that isn’t so prevalent in the eastern states and a business environment where it’s a quick ride to the top for the right people.

To see the full list of 40 winners, announced last week, go here.

InDaily will be profiling each of the winners over the coming weeks.

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