Harvey Fresh decision 'emotional'

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Kevin Sorgiovanni.
Camera IconKevin Sorgiovanni. Credit: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Extended shelf life milk exports have been a big part of the Harvey Fresh success story under the leadership of Kevin Sorgiovanni.

But nothing lasts forever in the dairy industry and Mr Sorgiovanni and his three co-owners - all related and products of the close-knit South West Italian community - knew the time was right to sell the family business founded in 1986.

"It was an emotional decision but at the end of the day we think it was the right decision to make," he said yesterday.

"We all have children and life for them would be a lot tougher because the industry is getting a lot tougher, more so from a compliance point of view. You have to have good facilities and good compliance and need to be able to offer returns."

Co-owners Mr Sorgiovanni, his brother Laurie, Diana Scolaro and Rosana Bonavita were swayed by the prospect of a quick settlement after deciding it was time to move on.

Mr Sorgiovanni and his brother will continue working for Harvey Fresh as part of the sale agreement with Parmalat.

"We have exited the business as owners but are excited about still being part of the business as employees because we live here, we live in the town of Harvey," he said.

Mr Sorgiovanni and Parmalat chief executive Craig Garvin arrived at the Harvey processing plant together early yesterday to greet the 200-strong staff as they arrived for work.

Mr Sorgiovanni explained the reasons for the sale and endorsed Parmalat as a longstanding player in the Australian dairy industry.

He later paid tribute to the family business model that had survived and thrived at Harvey Fresh.

The late Tony Scolaro and his son John, who died in 2012, were singled out for their roles in the rise of a humble juicing operation to major WA agribusiness worth $120 million.

"There is no denying we had ups and downs but we were very fortunate to have a strong family network," Mr Sorgiovanni said.

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