Bitcoin’s first purchase was a pizza. Bankcoin has been adopted by the second largest corporate mushroom farm conglomerate in Australia. The SJW Mushroom Corporation is a multi-million dollar agricultural entity.
The Willemse family mushroom history began 60 years ago when Peter and Leny Willemse emigrated from the Netherlands to Brisbane, Australia. The couple came from a mixed farming background and Peter had worked on a mushroom farm as a young man in the Netherlands.
From 2000 forward, this family owned mushroom production business averaged over 70 tonnes per week and they employ 150+ staff members making them the largest private employer in the Beaudesert Shire region.
This mushroom farm, now accepts Bankcoin Reserve cryptocurrency. To learn how this business began and developed into the blooming agricultural business they have become, learn about the family’s history. The steps towards growth and expansion of this family business are extraordinary.
The Willemse couple settled at Rochedale, Austalia and began building a mushroom farm. Using second hand materials they built 3 mushroom growing sheds with wooden shelves, while working 2 other jobs to fund the farm.
The family quickly grew with the birth of twin sons in 1958, followed by another 4 boys and 2 girls over the next 11 years. As the children grew older, picking mushrooms and compost preparation became part of the after school and week-end chores.
In 1969 the farm was unable to expand at its present location and 10 acres were purchased at North Maclean, Australia. In 1971 two sheds were built by Peter and his older sons. That expansion was repeated yearly until 10 sheds were established and they were growing 4,000 kgs per week.
The Rochedale farm closed in January 1974 and the family moved permanently to the new farm. The oldest sons left school at 15 and began full time work on the farm as has been the custom on farms internationally. In 1979, Peter passed away and the second generation took over the business.
The four eldest children, John, Corrie, Maria and Peter, whose average age was 20, managed the production, operations and management of the farm. The other children joined the farm operations upon leaving school.
In 1981 the farm started a new expansion phase with the building of new generation pasteurization tunnels, followed in 1983 & 1984 by the building of 4 new mushroom growing rooms, resulting in an increase in production to 10 tonnes per week.
1985 saw the introduction of a newly developed growing system using aluminium shelves instead of wooden boxes.
This was a major change utilizing new machinery and growing methods which resulted in productivity gains. Each year a module of 5 or 6 new growing rooms were built until 1991 when they had 32 growing rooms.
In 1991 their production grew to 40 tonnes per week making them the second largest farm in Australia. Since then, their expansion gains have been based on productivity and growing methods, rather than new growing rooms.
From 2000 forward, their production averaged over 70 tonnes per week and they employed 150 staff members making them the largest private employer in the Beaudesert Shire. They are still the second largest mushroom farm in Australia, (second only to a multi-national company operated farm in Melbourne).
Known then as Queensland Mushrooms, they became a major supplier to the chain stores and in 1997 and 1999 won a Woolworth’s Supplier of the Year Award for “Outstanding Performer – Produce”. In 1998 they started exporting to Japan and since 2000 obtained ISO9002 Quality Assurance.
In 2006, Queensland Mushrooms was sold to the Costa Group (Mushroom Exchange). Steve and Johnny Willemse continued to work for Costa until 2010.
After Steve left Costa, he spent some time helping a mushroom farm in Perth and a year later, Steve decided he wanted his own mushroom farm. In 2011, Steve was offered a farm at Woodford to lease. Steve an his family moved back to Queensland. That was a big move for Steve, as he had always worked with his family and for the first time in their lives, they had to work out how to pay wages!
Steve enjoyed the challenge as they were told that Woodford was a 10 tonne per week farm, yet no one had ever produced that many mushrooms from it.
Steve has been producing between 17 to 20 Tonnes per week. Not as much as the 70 tonnes he was doing at Queensland Mushrooms, but in the mushroom business you have to start small and work your way up.
Steve & Joanne’s son Rhys was a professional downhill mountain bike racer and had been racing overseas for 4 years, when he decided he had had enough and wanted to return home and work for the family business.
In 2012 the family purchased a mushroom farm at Chevallum on the Sunshine Coast. Rhys took over that farm as the grower, and he produced between 8 to 10 tonnes per week.
Today, the SjW Mushrooms farms employ over 150 staff members and produce 26 tonnes of mushrooms a week. Eighty percent of the farm’s product is sold in the Brisbane area and locally based Woolworths and wholesale outlets in North Queensland. They also supply local Sunshine Coast businesses, IGAs and wholesalers.
In 2016, they decided they wanted to build one big mushroom farm and have their own substrate yard. They solved that issue by purchasing 54 acres of land at Glasshouse Mountains. The land is next to Mount Ngungun offering beautiful views. They submitted their plans to council and were approved in August 2018.
By December 2019 they will be growing 60 tonnes of mushrooms per week.
The project will provide significant benefits for mushroom growing in Queensland and the local Sunshine Coast economy, with the $20m development costs being shared around local builders, contractors, and specialized equipment suppliers.
They are in build-out and improvement phases in 2019 and will be growing over 60 tonnes of mushrooms per week. Not to be outperformed and always having been able to grasp the future – SjW Mushrooms Pty Ltd now accepts Bankcoin Reserve cryptocurrency!