Steering a company in the right direction

Nick Hutchinson

MBA graduate Nick Hutchinson is delivering a sustainable future for a South Australian dairy company.

As General Manager of Fleurieu Milk Company, 33-year-old Flinders University MBA graduate Nick Hutchinson (BBus ’10, MBA ’12) is leading the way in building sustainable practices for the proudly local, family-run business.

With more than 75 staff, the South Australian company, based at Myponga, emerged out of a local dairy industry that was being run into the ground in the early 2000s. Input prices were at record levels and farms across Australia were forced out of operation.

With such a dire outlook, in 2004 two dairy farms across three families took the leap into bottling and selling their own milk, launching Fleurieu Milk Company – which now supplies milk, cream, yoghurt and flavoured milk across the state, and in New South Wales and the Northern Territory.


The company continues to grow and now sources milk from a range of dairies across the local region.

‘Local dairy farmers are the heart and soul of Fleurieu Milk Company,’ says Nick.

‘Understanding the value of our product and supporting local dairy farmers to ensure they’re also financially stable allows us to invest in areas that improve the social and environmental impact of the business.’

With a company built on a solid foundation of social and environmental sustainability, the focus is on selling a quality product instead of competing on price.

‘The moment we begin competing on price is the moment we will need to begin cost cutting. But all cost cutting would do is lead to decisions throughout our business, and our stakeholders’ businesses, that impact the environment,’ says Nick.

‘We are not interested in compromising on the environment.’

Fleurieu Milk Company, together with its supplying farms, look after over 3,000 acres across the Fleurieu Peninsula. They feel a deep responsibility to care for the environment that helps to produce their dairy products, and are constantly looking for ways to become more sustainable and reduce their energy use.

They have installed a 70kw solar system, upgraded their generator and switchboard, and are planning to add a UPS battery to assist in the swap over from power to generator supply during peak demand periods.

‘We have also significantly reduced our gas usage through the processing plant by using the offset heat from the refrigeration units to heat our pasteuriser water,’ says Nick.


Achieving a Bachelor of Business at Flinders University in 2010, Nick decided to deepen his business skills and knowledge and embarked on an MBA. He says his time at Flinders taught him some very important life skills around time management, work ethic and social skills.

‘I worked full-time while studying so the importance of time management was critical and something that I value extremely highly in my role today.

‘Socially, university was great. I was mixing with people from so many different backgrounds and ages. Being able to work with a mix of people is really important in my current position, and university introduced me to this.

‘As a country kid from small rural schools, the MBA pushed me out of my comfort zone and enhanced both my professional and personal skills.’


While in his early years at Fleurieu Milk Company, Nick says he was always the youngest person sitting in meetings or talking to business partners. He found a similar situation when he began his MBA at Flinders.

Instead of being intimidated, he realised the important opportunity of being surrounded by such extensive knowledge and experience.

‘I told myself, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just pick the thought processes of talented people, whether they are lecturers or senior business managers”.’

Learning from others is a practice that has helped Nick to expand and grow as a manager, as he now reaches the ten-year mark of working with the dairy company. He is passionate about being part of a sustainable, local company and believes they have a winning formula.

‘Fleurieu Milk Company has been built on a foundation of sustainability with very strong values of giving back to the local community, employing locals, and looking after them. I’m just lucky enough to continue steering it in the right direction.’

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2022 Encounter magazine – Read more

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