Craig Mostyn Group – 100 years

The Craig Mostyn Group is a 3rd generation family business. Jaqui Lane was commissioned to research, write and publish this book.

While the world was locked up during the pandemic I was working on researching and writing the history of the Craig Mostyn Group, a 100 year-old family business. The book was launch on the exact day the company was founded 100 years ago at a gala dinner in Perth in May of this year.

So who is the Craig Mostyn Group?

Craig Mostyn started out in Sydney trading tallow, the rendered fats from sheep and cattle, which are now commonly used in everyday consumer products such as soap, food, candles and cosmetics. It then moved into wattle bark, leather, fruit, then lobster and prawns. In fact the founder, Robert Long Mostyn, pioneered prawn fishing at Karumba in the 1960s…and led the charge to protect the fishery from over-fishing and even the Russians!

Craig Mostyn Group is now one of Australia’s leading diversified food and agribusiness companies with a significant focus on pork, beef and lamb through well-known brands such as Linley Valley Pork, Amelia Park and Pure Pork…among others.

What was the research and writing task?

As a commissioned historian my task was to capture the history from the company’s foundation through to the present day, identifying key themes and values that have endured over this time and charting the challenges the company faced and opportunities it grasped.

I was fortunate that a book had been written to commemorate the 75th anniversary so this was a great starting point. I then turned to a vast array of internal company documents, newsletters, reports and external industry magazines and reports. In addition, I interviewed over 20 current and former employees, managers, board members and family members.

Given the company had moved in and out of a vast array of trading opportunities over it’s 100 years it was a real challenge to learn about all of these businesses and brands. At one point I was working on the lobster and prawning operations and when asked what I was working on when in my shared workspace I commented ‘Lobsters and prawns at the moment’. From thereon, friends asked me how I was going with ‘the lobster book’. By this time I’d moved on to the company’s pork and beef operations, and then into abalone.

The end result of all this work was a first draft of the manuscript of 80,000 words.

After numerous revisions, editing and proofreading the text ended up closer to 50,000 words.

But the project didn’t end there. I also project managed the publication of the book.

Book design, layout and production

The next step in the book process was crafting the book. This involved creating a book design brief, working with a book graphic designer, sourcing and captioning all the photos and documents for reproduction in the book, organising the ‘front and end matter’ – item such as the Foreword, contents, imprint page, footnotes, acknowledgements and more.

As with writing and revising the manuscript, working through the mulitple version of the page layouts takes a special kind of attention to detail, version tracking, engagement with the client and teamwork.

I considered myself blessed that I have a wonderful team of specialists who I rely on to bring the words I write to life. They are amazing proofreaders, editors, graphic designers, photo researchers and printers.

And, of course, having a wonderful client makes the whole journey so much more rewarding and enjoyable. On this project I was fortunate to work with one of the company’s directors and a member of the Mostyn family who I have known for many years. To work on a book that is so important and valued by the family and company has been a real privilege. I am genuinely honoured to have been entrusted with capturing Craig Mostyn history and story.

What I have learnt?

One of the great aspects of my ‘job’ as a company historian/corporate storyteller is that I meet interesting people across a wide range of industries and roles and through these interviews and research I learn a great deal. As a curious person I love this.

With the Craig Mostyn Group history I learnt about the growth and development of Australia’s trading history whether that be in wattle bark, tallow, beef, prawns, lobsters, abalone or pork. I learnt about how the sap from the grass tree has been traded to firework companies around the world and is an important part of the colour of some of the displays we watch.

I’ve learnt how the entrepreneurial spirit of one man developed Australia’s prawning industry, and how a short, direct telegram to the Australian Prime Minister, prompted action to protect the fishery from the Russians.

This book has also reinforced to me the vital importance of intergenerational family businesses have in the growth and development of Australia.

Family owned and/or operated businesses have a distinctly different approach to business. It’s a more custodial, value-driven approach that focuses on the long term and inter-generational equity. It also requires family businesses to navigate transitions across generations and with non-family executives and board members.

If you are part of a family business and want to capture your story contact me.

If you’d like to learn more about how to start a family business history project download and fill out this questionnaire and contact us.

To learn more about company histories review our history website, Global Stories