Ex-courier turns Cairns' pie man
FORMER courier business owner Colin Thompson has come out of retirement to sell pies.
The 64-year-old has secured the distributorship of South Australian-based Vili's pasties, sausage rolls and cakes for north Queensland, from Rockhampton in the south, north to the Torres Strait and west to the Northern Territory border.
Three years after selling CC Couriers and then working for the Makotrac at Mareeba, Mr Thompson settled into retirement.
But boredom set in and one day while sitting around with some mates having a chat the subject turned to pies.
"I'm from South Australia and I've never found a decent pasty like Vili's up here," he said.
"So instead of talking about it I went down and visited Vili and we struck a deal for the distributorship up here."
That was five months ago and the brand is taking off.
"I wouldn't be selling them if I didn't believe in them. They are very good products."
Mr Thompson said they contained pure beef and fresh vegetables and were handmade. The products are exported to 23 countries and the business turns over $75 million a year.
His first order was for three pallets containing nearly 6000 pies and other goods.
"Now I'm ordering 15 pallets. My turnover is $80,000 a month and growing," Mr Thompson said.
He said the pies, particularly the Drover pie which was created for indigenous communities, were selling well in Cape York.
It's a 200g pie with chunky steak and onion filling made with wholemeal pastry.
"It’s been designed for Aboriginal communities and it's in big demand," Mr Thompson said.
He said he had persuaded Vili's owner Vikli Milisits to create a mushy pie called the Queenslander with maroon wrapping.
"It took three months to develop with so many varieties to get it right," Mr Thompson said.
He said pies were being sold through the Island and Cape supermarkets as well as various other outlets including the Double Shot Cafe in the Cairns CBD and IGA stores.
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Handmade: Colin Thompson has come out of retirement to sell South Australia's Vili pies in north Queensland. Picture: MIKE WATT