Caption: Cosana CEO Chris Bowman (centre) with some of his team.

In its first year of trading, Cosana sold $1.7 million dollars’ worth of manuka honey across the global market.

Cosana CEO and part-owner, Chris Bowman, was thrilled with the results but, as an experienced manager of early-stage businesses, he could see that the company was growing rapidly and needed its staff to grow with it.

“Many of our staff were new to the honey industry so needed training. I strongly believe in empowering my staff and helping them reach their potential, but training can be very expensive. For a new business, these training costs are often out of reach,” says Cosana CEO, Chris Bowman.

“The financial assistance from the Regional Business Partner programme enabled Cosana to provide our staff with the training they needed to upskill.”

Through the Regional Business Partner programme, businesses can be funded up to 50 per cent of training costs (up to $5,000 a year), making training more affordable.

Cosana sent four staff members on the Dale Carnegie leadership course “Leadership Training for Results: Unleash Talent in Others.”

Chris says that staff feedback about the Dale Carnegie courses has been very positive and beneficial for Cosana.

“Providing training for our staff means we don’t have to recruit for managers; instead we upskill our current team. We’ll have guys coming in at grassroots as operators and, with the right training, they can progress to supervisors, team leaders or quality managers. I have six staff who are all progressing through the industry, learning as they go and achieving a higher level of management skill through the RBP training,” says Bowman.

Mentoring is also a key aspect of staff training for Bowman who has 14 years’ experience in the honey industry. He led both Manuka Honey and King Honey through exponential periods of growth before both businesses were sold in multimillion dollar deals.

His industry experience and business acumen led to the establishment of Cosana New Zealand which he set up during the Covid lockdown of 2020. In just 12 short weeks, Chris found a suitable property in Taupo with a 1,200 square metre warehouse, built the enclosures and got the plant underway. Cosana officially opened for business on 1 September 2021.

Cosana focuses on manufacturing high quality manuka honey at its purpose-built honey processing plant in Taupo. It sells its honey to third party distributors who create and sell a wide range of bee products including honey, capsules, mouth spray, lip balm and lozenges.

Cosana also offers additional services such as honey testing, freight forwarding and export documentation.

The majority of Cosana honey is sent to majority shareholders, Cosana Japan, but Cosana is also building markets in America, China, Europe, the UAE, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, Bowman says that in the future Cosana will offer a large portfolio of bee products including skincare and health products.

A firm believer in the health benefits of manuka honey, Chris takes manuka honey every day and says he hasn’t had a cold in 14 years!

As for his experience with the RBP network: “Dealing with Soda was too easy! Anna made the process really simple, and I’d absolutely recommend other businesses make the most of the RBP programme and available funding.”