Chris started work life as a dairy farmer near Murray Bridge in South Australia. At 19 years of age, he had to change his lifestyle due to the Vietnam war, and joined the Navy to see the war out and help bring the troops home. He had changed his lifestyle from one of hard labour farming, surrounded by sun drenched, rich green pastures, contented cows, fresh air and a tanned muscular body, for one of poor diet, lack of exercise, love handles and foul air with several years in submarines. He left this lethargic, cramped (but interesting) life style of bad smelling, unwashed shipmates to start a life ashore in IT with IBM. After 4 years he moved on to become a Project Manager with Honeywell – an IT automation company specializing in supplying computerized control equipment to manufacture milk products, petroleum refineries, steel, avionics for aircraft, engine room automation for ships and hydrographic survey equipment for the navy.
Sick of seeing and being part of the huge growth in automated food manufacture with all its chemical additions and the unrelenting treatment of supermarket customers as feed lot animals, he became a passionate believer in the farm fresh organic movement.
Paula Cromwell (owner, Director and Sales Manager)
Paula has a long history in retail, starting work life as a cadet at David Jones and moving through the ranks to become a department Manager at the Elizabeth St store in Sydney. She eventually left DJ’s to manage various Sportsgirl shops around Sydney and eventually became a Human Resource Manager for Country Road Clothing in Melbourne. Along the way she became fascinated with the similarity of the way food and fashion were sold in retail outlets – both relying heavily on presentation and a story to match to get the sale.
Already an avid “foody” from spending many of her teen years living in Rome, Italy as a Nanny to a wealthy family, Paula decided in 1992 that it was time to start her own business as a caterer of fine up market food in Sydney. With some good luck, she and her business partner won contracts to supply gourmet food to BMW and Estee Lauder boardrooms and training centres on a daily basis for several years.
In 1997, after moving to Castlemaine with her husband Chris, and setting up Central Victorian Providores, she started visiting local farms in Central Victoria and offered them a viable channel to get their beautiful hand made products direct to customers in restaurants and deli’s throughout Melbourne and country Victoria.
Her passion and commitment to the local suppliers product, with her valuable insight and feedback of current market trends (particularly in Melbourne) have made her an important part of their overall business direction.
She just loves helping people make a success of their passion for their products.
Paula still drives one of the refrigerated trucks to the farms each week to catch up with a favourite dairy animal and their human owners.
Trish is the Office/Purchasing Manager for CVP. During her high School years in Central Victoria, she spent many nights and weekends working at the local IGA, first as a checkout chick and then book keeper and then as a manager. Along the way she took on a Business Degree with a major in Accounting. She came to CVP with this strong background in supermarket logistics and has gone on to put significant systems in place that make CVP function with the reliability of supply of which they have become a noted leader.
Zee is CVP’s product specialist. Zee was born in Kuala Lumpur and was surrounded by a vast array of multicultural cuisines from a very early age that obviously ignited her interest in food and its ingredients . She moved to Australia and completed a Psychology degree at Sydney University. It was here she met her future husband who was doing a Chemical Engineering degree at the time (they met in the science lab) but he changed his mind and became an Accountant and CPA.
Being an avid cook of Chinese food with all its amazing flavours, she has bought real hands on depth of knowledge of food that we at CVP believe is of great benefit to customers looking to do something different with whatever raw ingredients are at hand.
Mark has been the Financial Controller at CVP for 8 years. He got his Accounting degree at Sydney University and is now a CPA. He set up many of the financial and processes within CVP to make it function as an efficient business. Although not strictly part of the food side of the business, he has a passion for food from being Zee’s partner and embracing the Chinese food philosophy of “if it moves, eat it”.
Joy is our accounts payable person who has had the pleasure of owning her own electrical business with her husband and understands the pressures of small business. She has completed tertiary studies in Accounting and Business management and is the most usual point of contact for our suppliers.
Jane is our customer service leader and is usually the first person you will talk to if you ring CVP. She has a strong background in customer service, having been the PA to the General Manager of Newspower – a large buying group of independent new agents throughout Australia. Her job is to follow up on customer questions and late orders to ensure that what is impossible becomes the vital ingredient delivered on time, on temperature with the rest of the order. She spends most of her time designing workarounds with our suppliers to get customers out of a supply shortage for an important function or event.
Charlie is the baby at CVP at 34 years of age and is our lead driver. He has lived in Castlemaine nearly all his life except for a 2 year stint on Lindeman Island resort in the Whitsunday Islands as the golf pro. He is a mad keen AFL Footballer and trialed with Hawthorn for a few games and unfortunately stood against Nathan Buckley (Captain/coach of Collingwood) for a game and got given a good lesson on how to play football and went back to play A grade in the country.
He is also played A grade cricket in Melbourne and cannot be interrupted for a conversation or telephone call if a Test is on the radio at the time. Charlie has been at CVP for only 4 years.
Doug is our consummate all rounder. A true gentleman. He does telephone sales, he drives, he packs. He was a trainer of baby chefs and hospitality workers at the local Bendigo TAFE for many years on the back of his management of the Grand Ball room at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne for 11 years. He is another passionate foodie in the team who loves making his own washed rind and white mould cheeses from scratch. He also pickles walnuts, candies tangerines and makes the best truffled honey known to man, breeds alpacas, horses, guinea fowl and chickens.
Denis is our backup driver who comes out of retirement every Wednesday (and as necessary) to deliver to towns between Castlemaine and Melbourne. He tells us that it is the best day of the week because he has the best people to which to deliver product. He, like Charlie is a mad AFL fan and backs his passion by being the coach of several junior football teams as well as an accredited football umpire for the local Association.
Craig drives for us 2 days a week and has lived in Castlemaine all his life and despite being land locked, has been a yachty from a very early age. He cut his teeth on all sorts of small racing boats on the nearby Lake Cairn Curran. He has complete 4 Sydney Hobart yacht races and is an Australian champion in the Finn class. He has helped build several Sydney Hobart racers and as a fitter and turner helps maintain the CVP trucks.
The packing team:-
Josh Keiran, Alisha Keiran, Alana Kidd, Theo O’brien, Glen Robinson, Tess Grogan, Emma Webb, James Morgan, James Doran, Sharelle Ernst, Tom Lukaitis, Anne Deumer, Charlene Brown, Rosalie Roberts, Simon Cromwell, Andrew Cromwell
Amongst the team, we have 8 University Degrees ranging from Environmental and computer science, a biochemical engineeer to various business, medical health and psychology degrees.
It has always been Paula’s philosophy to employ a few high school students at 15 and match them with a much older mentor for much of their years at CVP. This approach has always meant great loyalty to the CVP team and that even when the students end up at Uni they always come back for the Christmas packs (except the trainee doctors).