We love a chat with our customers, and we often get asked ‘how did you lads get yourself into this line of business?’ or ‘why fruit delivery?’. Sometimes, we ask ourselves that very same question, so we wanted to put the story of the Fruit People down!
We’re a growing Irish fruit delivery company with aspirations on being a small, flexible but important part of a healthy lifestyle. We’re Barry and Brian Dennis from Clontarf, and we’ve come a long way in a short time, from family business to leading the charge for a healthy workplace.
Taking inspiration from travel
The origins of our business come from a place where many great Irish companies start – travel and witnessing other ideas and cultures. Before getting in to the fruit delivery business, we were in our family business H.B.Dennis Motors.
In 2009 the business, like most of the economy, was veering on the downside, so as young guns in our 20s, we both took this time to go travelling and working abroad. Brian continued in the area of auto sales in the sweltering east, travelling around Afghanistan, Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan selling vehicles to the US military.
At the same time Barry was travelling Australia and started to work for a company called ‘Aussie Farmers Direct’. This company supplied homes with fresh produce, fruit, veg, milk etc. When Barry returned from his travels he started to work for a small company in Dublin that was supplying homes and saw a great opportunity in this area.
It was while working at this company that we saw there was a growing demand from the corporate industry for fresh fruit in the workplace. So we decided to start The Fruit People and target workplaces around Dublin, and from tiny acorns, our business began.
I guess we are kind of the opposite to Bill Cullen, He went from selling apples on Moore street to selling cars and we went from selling cars to selling apples!
Of course, it wasn’t always easy. They say most startup companies fail fast (within the first year), and given the logistical necessities with this type of business, we were certainly working long and hard! The business started in Jan 2013 in a garage at the side of our grandad’s house.
Like with most small businesses we got a lot of help from friends and family, we like to think of them as our part-time salesforce! Because of our love for fruit and a healthy lifestyle, we wanted to stand out a bit, and make our brand a bit more fun than the other delivery companies out there. After all, why bother working if you’re not doing what you love and having fun at it?
A cousin in the marketing industry gave us some advice on how the brand should look.The logistics were very important for us at the beginning as we realised early on that we need to keep our deliveries near to each other so decided on a marketing drive in certain areas. In any case, we found that the type of companies that wanted to use this service were very often all located near to each other!
Now our fruit deliveries cover all of Dublin. Some areas are slightly restricted to what day they can have their order but we are adding an additional van in the coming weeks so we will be able to lift this restriction. Fruit delivery around Dublin for all!
In terms of what our typical work day looks like, well like most small business owners, we work 7 days.
Most of our work is front loaded in the week. So on a Sunday we are in the markets selecting the stock for Monday orders at around 07:00am and then we spend the full day on Sunday preparing the orders for deliveries. On Monday we arrive at the site at 04:00am and hit the road delivering till about 12:00. A lot of the offices we deal with will give us 24h access so this makes life easy for us, plus it builds that level of trust that we think is needed for a good customer relationship. After we return from the deliveries we hit the markets again and select the next days stock and start preparing the orders. It’s a never ending, tiring, but rewarding circle!
Of course, we also like to practise what we preach, we are definitely eating a lot more fruit than before. With the demands of the job we realise the importance of keeping fit and healthy. One sick day can hamper everything, so we’re living proof of the positive benefits of eating well! We’re both members of Crossfit Dublin which helps us stay fit and strong, and of course, lifting boxes, pallets etc brings its own ‘natural fitness’!
We also both like to cook so I guess we are foodies, and we love experimenting with different ways of using fruit and veg in dishes.
We’ve definitely seen a change in the way companies treat their employees, and we want to be a small part of that. At the beginning of our journey, we were just out of the recession and companies were being very conscious about what they were spending. But that slowly changed, and we find that people are more receptive to what we do. We’ve even noticed another big change that there is now a person in most companies dedicated to health and wellbeing. When we call them they are very excited to try out the service. The feedback we are getting is great – for as little as €80 per month everyone gets a perk. Employers seem to like us a lot too, because to give one person a bonus of €80 at the end of the month means very little, but to show the entire office that there health is important sends a very positive message!
We think this will continue and is being drivin from the larger companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. They realise that the people of these companies are their best assets and for smaller companies to attract good people they will have to show that they too value the people that work for them.
So what’s our past and present, but what’s coming next? At the moment we have expansion plans for the company into other counties but there is still a lot to do in Dublin so its not going to be for a few months yet! We are changing around the website so we are also going to be changing around our product range. Due to a high demand from people asking us to supply veg Juices we are adding them on in the coming weeks, and we think that’s going to be a big success, so keep and eye on the website.
Overall though, we just want to continue doing what we’re doing, and our aim is still to be a successful, family owned Irish businesses that focuses on health, wellbeing and has a sense of morality. That’s our higher purpose, and that’s what we strive towards.
Here’s to better health and happier workplaces for all!