Meet the Maker: Lawrence Harris Director of Harry’s Ice Cream
Buy Aussie Now Team
This story was written by several Buy Aussie Now team members.
Harry’s Ice Cream Co is a premium ice cream range from Harry & Larry’s, an Australian owned business, dedicated to creating indulgent, locally produced, quality products using Australian dairy.
They started making artisan ice cream in 1994 and now Harry’s four flavours are found in Woolworths and IGA stores across Australia - Salted Caramel Fudge, Triple Choc Brownie, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Fudge and Peppermint Brownie.
How did you start your homegrown business?
When we first started making ice cream, it was all made in small batches, five litres at a time (no more than a total of 20 litres in an hour so not much at all!) at the back of our first store in Chadstone. We mixed everything ourselves, starting with fresh cream and ending with the addition of generous chunks of chocolate for our New York Choc Chip. Our ice cream became a big hit and in Summer it sold as fast as we could make it.
Then as it became more popular we moved into our current factory in Hadfield (Victoria) and now produce over 4 million litres of ice cream per year, employing local workers and using dairy from Aussie farmers.
What inspires you?
We are passionate about delicious high-quality products using Australian dairy. We are always looking at what our customers want but also what’s next with trends and innovation in food, health and ingredients. As a family-run business, supporting other local companies is important to us, as is doing our part for the environment. We’re inspired by Harry’s fans who love our ice cream and make us want to create indulgent ice cream for them and their families.
What are the benefits of manufacturing locally?
We’ve always supported local dairy farmers as we know that their milk is fresh, high quality and creates jobs for local communities. Our manufacturing plant produces over 10 million sticks and tubs of ice cream every year and we can be flexible and move quickly if needed, whether that be to produce additional stock, create new flavours or experiment with a different product. You don’t have that flexibility with overseas production. Also our turn around times are less and there’s also less handling and transit of our products from the factory to retailer to consumer’s homes – and mouths!
What makes the Australian consumer unique?
Australian consumers are very savvy, they know what they like and what they don’t like – and they’re not afraid to tell you. Social media has provided a great platform for us to engage with Harry’s fans and ask them what they want from us with flavour, texture and ingredients, but also have fun with them creating recipes and different ways to use Harry’s ice cream. With the push for Australian made, they’ve become even more vocal in what they expect from brands. If you’re honest and transparent with them, you can turn them into long time consumers who are real ambassadors for you and your products.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Understanding that it’s been a tough time for many businesses, especially in Victoria, from a position of relative luxury, one of the best pieces of advice given to me is that patience is the key to success. With patience, there’s room for productivity and time to think about your plans and next move. If you can take some time, don’t be too anxious, wait it out, think about your challenges and opportunity for growth – then make your move.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in business?
As the demand for Harry’s Ice Cream began to grow, we knew we needed bigger premises to increase our production capacity. One of the biggest challenges was moving from our smaller Brunswick factory to our current premises in Hadfield. Anyone who has moved their business will understand the general logistics of moving, however we also substantially increased our scale of operation and with that, we needed to assess and adapt our production processes and systems. It took a while but was worth the effort and time it took.
What has been your positive takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Thankfully everyone has been eating a lot of ice cream during lockdown, which we’re very grateful for! For us, we were lucky that food production was considered an essential service so we could continue to produce our products and ensure Harry’s fans could still get their favourite flavours. It’s been great to see consumers treating themselves to ice cream during lockdown and telling us they’ve been enjoying our products. If we’ve been able to make people feel just a little bit better during this time, that’s a really good thing.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a paperboy, standing on the corner of Balaclava and Hawthorn Roads, selling newspapers to passersby. Many regulars let me ‘keep the change’ so that was a good way to increase my pocket money!
Do you keep your vegemite in the fridge or pantry?
Always in the fridge at our place.
Favourite Australian film quote?
“Tell him he’s dreaming” – from the classic film, The Castle.
Which classic Aussie song would you perform at karaoke?
I’m not sure that karaoke is really my thing. However, I do love Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool.
Check out Harry's Ice Cream for deliciously indulgent, locally crafted, authentic Australian Ice Cream.