A long-term Wangaratta company is supporting communities and helping people reach their potential. Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, toured Merriwa Industries with CEO Bart Crawley to learn the benefits being delivered through the social enterprise model and the plans for expected growth in the business.
Ms McGowan said Merriwa had been a local employer for the past 40 years and was a major contributor to Wangaratta and the North East. Merriwa employs more than 240 people at a number of sites, including Park Lane Nursery, and has a focus on sustainable employment and developing life skills in employees.
“Providing stable and rewarding employment for people with a disability produces many benefits and employees are leading better lives because of the support of Merriwa Industries,” Ms McGowan said.
During the tour of the packing plant, Ms McGowan met people taking great pride in their work and the continuous improvement program introduced two years ago had further developed people’s skills.
“The employees have a strong sense of purpose and are pleased to be making a contribution to our communities,” she said.
Ms McGowan said the company had a diverse portfolio to create turnover of more than $25 million, up from $1 million 20 years ago, and plans to significantly increase their operation in coming years.
“The factory packages products for major supermarket chains, makes cake stands, boxes dog food and confectionery, produces timber products and also manages a nursery and supported residential accommodation in Cobram,” Ms McGowan said. “They also perform in-home care and respite and supported residential accommodation.”
Ms McGowan said Merriwa Industries was another service provider interested in how the National Disability Insurance Scheme would impact their business.