For Brian and Barry Dennis, a decision to spend the recession travelling proved instrumental in career transitions for both of them, ultimately leading to the establishment of a brand new fruit delivery business. Brian tells us more about the enterprise the brothers set up in 2013 and their mission to supply fresh fruit to offices throughout the city and beyond.
Tell us a little about your background, the family car business and how you first got interested in the world of fruit.
Before we started The Fruit People we were working in H.B. Dennis Motors, which was founded in 1956 by our grandfather. We were both based in the Hyundai/Citroën department in Airside, Swords. Barry looked after service and I looked after the sales for that part of the group. 2008 was a bad time in Ireland for the motor industry, so we both decided it was a good time to go travelling. We ended up heading off to different parts of the world, and while we were away Barry spotted a trend of supplying homes with fruit and veg boxes in Australia.
Upon our return, we both tried our hands at that, but we found out pretty quickly that it was really hard to suit the needs of households with 3-5 people. We persevered though, and eventually, we got a few offices interested in getting fruit to their workplace. It turned out to be a lot easier to please 20 people, as someone would always like the different varieties we sent in.
It was from here that The Fruit People was founded in 2013.
We’ve noticed a big shift in office eating habits over the past few years, both globally and in Ireland. How has that influenced the work that you do?
At the beginning we found it challenging to get people to understand the concept of getting fruit delivered to the office as we were the only ones offering this service at the time. Then, as companies gradually started to hear about the free stuff people got in Google, Facebook and other, similar kinds of companies, we found that they wanted to have this replicated at a smaller scale in their own offices. We began to look for offices that had between 10 to 250 people working in them that wanted to encourage their staff to work more productively by snacking healthier or a least have a healthy option available for them.
This shift in company mindsets globally has really helped us to grow quickly in a short period of time. These programmes weren’t really around when we started but thankfully they are common practice now. In fact, this seems to be the first box ticked when offices begin to look at their health and wellbeing programmes.
What makes your fruit boxes special? How do you source your products?
What’s nice about dealing with offices is that there is a high level of service required and our background in the family business has given us a good understanding of the service industry and all that it involves. As the business grows we are always focused on delivering the best service possible. We go to great effort to make sure that we have the best and most unique fruits available, and we think that this is ultimately what makes us special. We have a team of twenty passionate people all working to deliver the perfect fruit box and this team is our biggest strength.
While we supply fruit, milk and snacks, the fruit boxes are always going to be our main offering and it’s the product that takes the most effort to get right. We have two buyers, Zdravko and myself. Our aim each year is to meet with our suppliers and to make new connections. Actually, Barry, Zdravko and I just returned from Berlin last Friday where we attended Fruit Logistica 2018, Europe’s largest fruit convention.
It’s a trip we make every year and this year was great, so keep an eye out this summer for some very interesting fruits coming to our shores! In particular we’ll be featuring some gorgeous red-fleshed pears with an extremely sweet taste, including varieties such as Santa Maria, Kaise and Red Bartlett.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
The future of The Fruit People is to continue expanding at a manageable rate so that the level of service does not suffer. We started delivering nationwide over a year ago and we’re now partnering with companies in the UK, which allows us to deliver to all of Ireland and the UK. We would like to continue this expansion throughout the rest of Europe.
How can people order your fruit baskets?
Ordering is easy! thefruitpeople.ie is our website or more often people will give us a call to discuss the options we have. We also offer a free trial online so check that out too.
The Fruit People
Tel: 01 – 5345 821
Words – Martina Murray