Despite the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 lockdown, the Davidson family’s milk business has flourished, Chloe Davidson reports.

Wow what a crazy year 2020 has been so far for the Davidson family, as well as for many others I’m sure.

Our boutique calf-at-foot dairy in Canterbury, Roan, has continued to grow and flourish since launching in October 2019 and has given us the confidence to take our business to new levels! In December we realised that in order to continue to grow our business, we needed to make Roan our sole focus so earlier this year we decided to give up the security of our contract milking job at the end of this season and follow our dreams!

As a Mum of two very young toddlers with no income of my own, I felt a little uneasy about the fact that there wasn’t going to be a guaranteed milk cheque coming in every month to provide my children with a warm home and full tummies but we knew in our hearts that it was the right move so we decided to take a leap of faith.

But we haven’t once looked back. We are 100% sure this will be the right decision for our family and our business.

This year so far has seen massive growth for Roan and we’ve achieved more than we ever thought we could in a year, never mind four months. In February we launched our door-to-door milk delivery service in Christchurch.

I did a lot of research into which areas of Christchurch might have the best uptake and made the very unpopular decision to launch in Sumner. I chose Sumner for a number of reasons but, after living there myself a few years ago, I just knew Roan would go well over there.

With no one else in agreement, it wasn’t long before the self-doubt set in but with every incoming order, my confidence started returning and the night before delivery day we were sitting on just under 100 litres for our first delivery which far outweighed our expectations.

As of this week we are delivering about 260 litres each week to Sumner and our customers absolutely love our milk. This experience reaffirmed to me to trust my instincts even if I’m the only person who thinks it’s a good idea!

Slowly but surely we have expanded our delivery routes to Redcliffs, south of the CBD, north of the CBD, Wigram, Halswell, Lincoln, Prebbleton and Tai Tapu, Rolleston, West Melton and Darfield.

We are now supplying milk to more than 500 households around Christchurch which has been amazing but definitely hasn’t come without its challenges as most of our systems are done by hand so processing that number of orders takes a lot of time.

The balance of trying to meet the needs and wants of my two little darlings as well as satisfying the requirements of Roan has been quite the challenge but its 100% worth it when we hand-deliver produce from our farm straight to the doorsteps of so many households.

Like so many businesses, 90% of our business stopped when the nation went into Covid-19 lockdown. Many of our stockists were shut on Monday when we went to Level 3 and only two were left standing on Thursday when the nation went into lockdown. As soon as we got word we were heading for lockdown I came up with a plan of how we were going to minimise the effects on our business. I was well aware that without our stockists we would never survive but I was not going to let Covid-19 take hold of our dream without a big fight.

Overnight we switched from 90% supply to stockists, to 90% to door-to-door customers. We extended all our current routes and introduced a few new ones according to where the customer demand was. This turned out to be a mammoth task logistically because although we’re not supplying as much milk, there’s a huge admin difference between supplying 100 litres to one stockist and supplying the same amount to 68 different customers. The blood, sweat and tears has definitely been worth it, though, because we’ve managed to keep Roan ticking over and we’re on track to go full time in June.