Small Business

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Regional move a powerful stimulant for coffee roasters

With a dream come true in Orange, the owners of Bills Beans have enjoyed a rapid expansion of their enterprise, writes Nathan Partenza.

Coffee roasters Bill and Lisa Parianos have managed to infuse a slice of Sydney's cafe culture into the regional centre of Orange. And it's paying dividends.

The couple gave up an inner-city lifestyle to move to the central west city, 3½ hours from Sydney, with a dream of opening their own espresso bar, Bills Beans.

They have since opened a second cafe and become major wholesalers and employers in Orange, which has a population just shy of 40,000.

''I live and work within a five-minute walk, there's no tolls, there's no parking fees and I don't miss Sydney peak-hour traffic,'' Mr Parianos said.

The pair, both 43, made the move as part of the Evocities campaign, which aims to encourage people in capital cities to live, work and invest in regional centres throughout NSW.

As well as Orange, other cities participating in the project are Armidale, Albury, Bathurst, Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.


Mr Parianos said that he saw the move as a chance to become ''virtually debt-free'' but soon fell in love with Orange. Initially, he would have been happy expanding the cafe, developing wholesale products and pouring 100 cups of coffee a day.

''But our little espresso bar soon developed into a 500-cup-a-day business and over the last few years we've rapidly outgrown our original premises and opened up a new roastery and cafe,'' he said.

''Our business has grown at least 20 per cent compounded per annum. We've gone from three staff when we started to now employing 23 - and we've got a steadfast reputation for what we do and the word just spreads."

Mr Parianos said a labour shortage still existed in the regions but he had noticed more people moving from capital cities.

The couple's business roasts up to two tonnes of coffee a week, which is distributed to regional and metropolitan clients.

Mr Parianos said setting up the business in a regional centre meant its growth had been ''organic'' and required less sales and marketing costs than it would have in Sydney.

''It's a pretty tight-knit community here and basically our business has grown through reputation,'' he said.

''When we first came here there was probably about five decent outlets to get coffee and that's now grown to about 14.

''Competition is a fantastic thing, it keeps you fresh.''

Mr Parianos said the mining boom continued to drive growth in Orange's economy, in contrast to declines in other areas.

''It really is a boom town,'' he said.

The Evocities campaign was launched in September 2010. A spokesman for the campaign, James Treloar, said 275 people had relocated to regional centres in the past six months.

''The perception [of] west of the [Great Dividing Range] really is droughts, bushfires, floods, bank closures and the rural flying doctor service, which is far from reality,'' Mr Treloar said.

''People don't realise that these are regional cities that provide good health facilities, good educational facilities and as a consequence are very liveable cities.''

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