Dianne Downey, who has a background in start-ups in the beverage industry, has always admired those who take a raw material and develop it to the next level. She and her husband Paul “wanted to try this ourselves in the later part of our lives – if you don’t give a go, you’ll never know. We didn’t want to be sitting in a retirement home and thinking ‘what if’.”
So, they started The Limery in Wairoa.
While Paul heads the front-of business, she’s “in the engine room”, driving the general operation.
Initially, it started as a seasonal business centred on whole fruit, but as they went from selling limes by the kilo to 50 tonne lots, the issue of waste (the secondary fruit) led Dianne to develop and source equipment to build a juicing facility.
“We’re on a huge growth path, it’s been exponential. We have grown from an artisan to a commercial brand, supplying juice products around the country. New Zealand used to import lime juice concentrate from Mexico – now we have lime juice produced here in Hawke’s Bay.”
Dianne’s a strong believer in giving back to the community, employing local people as well as apprentices – “there’s a lot of talent in Wairoa, it’s about finding it and giving it a chance.” Neighbouring farmers now grow for them on the side and because nothing is wasted, “what’s not graded as whole fruit gets juiced”, they get a good price. The skins go to the deer farm over the road.
Dianne says, “When you’re got a small business you’re head down, bottom up, you don’t really get to look over the fence at what others are doing.” But she hugely admires Joanie Williams of Origin Earth who she feels a real affinity with in terms of values and approach to business. “Joanie is extremely passionate about dairy, as we are about citrus and beverages, she’s an incredible lady.”