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Errol McClelland, founder of TumeriX

Turning over $20m with TurmeriX: Ex police officer Errol McClelland’s “a-ha!” moment

Errol McClelland, 62, is a former butcher and Victorian police officer, who three years ago launched a healthcare business based on Turmeric, which is now available in twelve countries with an annual turnover of $20million. 

Errol created health food brand TurmeriX after researching and developing a range of turmeric-based products, prompted by his own health issues with arthritis. He personally saw the benefits of using Tumeric as a natural remedy, and saw an opportunity to share the benefits with others in a similar position to him. 

Starting from a spice factory in Melbourne and selling through market stalls and fairs, TurmeriX is now a global wholesale distributor, supplying across Australia, New Zealand, USA, Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Germany, France Canada and the UK to name but a few, with exclusive retail licences issued by sales area.

In just three years the company has gone from idea to international business with $20million in annual turnover. Most recently the brand has been picked up by health food chain Go Vita, and TurmeriX products will be trialled at Priceline’s biggest outlet on Bourke St in Melbourne.

We had the opportunity to speak with Errol recently the success of TurmeriX, it’s humble beginnings to where it is now globally and his defining “a-ha!” moment.

Why do you think TumeriX has been so successful?

A couple of things stand out to me about the success of TurmeriX to date. TurmeriX came from a genuine need that I had to fix an ankle injury that have been going on 15 to 18 years. I had my ankle operated on six and a half years ago and the surgery wasn’t done particularly well, I don’t think. The end result was that it never healed properly and my ankle stayed badly inflamed with a lot of swelling. The last meeting I had with the surgeon, they said the only way to fix it was to surgically fuse my foot, like a clubfoot. It would be completely locked and never move it again, and it’s irreversible. Well, I’d been doing some research into natural anti-inflammatories. I told them, “No,we won’t be doing that.”

I hobbled out of the room, and I came back home. I just continued looking at products that were on the market. I trialled a few of them with limited results. I then got onto a spice company with all the information I’d gathered and said, “I’d like you to make me this” – which they did. The product is made of the highest quality ingredients and it shows in the results our customers are writing to us about.

Timing is another big factor in our success. I launched the product at a time when people were just starting to talk about turmeric and so there was information everywhere in the media about how good it was as a natural alternative.

People are also a big factor. The people I have working in the business or providing us with services like accounting, digital marketing, manufacturing etc. are critical to making the company a success. 

Did you always want to launch a business, or did it happen out of circumstance – as you were looking for a solution yourself?

This business came about from my personal circumstances and a genuine need to solve a dire health issue. However I have had a number of ‘startup’ businesses throughout my life and I enjoy the process enormously. The energy required to create and run a business is exciting and so are the people that cross your path. Personally, I love business, I really enjoy meeting new people and I love travel so I have been enjoying the experience.

How has the business changed since it was founded? 

We started out as a market stall in Daylesford where a lot of our interactions were about testing people’s responses to our product and its price point and getting a feel for what people found compelling about it. Once we started fielding enquiries about distribution further afield, however, we knew it was time to switch modes to rapid scaling.

What have been the biggest challenges over the past 3 years with your business?

The main one is cashflow management. It’s really just cashflow management. Bringing new products into the market costs a lot of money especially when you’re paying suppliers for ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, shipping etc. Everyone wants to be paid quickly but it doesn’t necessarily align with sales of the product. Add to that additional costs like TGA (therapeutic goods administration), consultants, marketing etc. It all adds up.

It’s also about finding the right people. For example, we had a few poor TGA consultants before we found our current one. That set me back quite a few dollars as well as time, but that’s part of doing business.

How did you cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset after a career in the police force? 

I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset. Finding solutions to problems and marketing the products I source or develop myself. I think this came to me during my time butchering (I left school and talked my way into a butchering role) and my time in the police force was far from a 9 to 5 job.

What’s been your biggest a-ha! moment since you start TumeriX?

I think the first market at Daylesford, Victoria. I had taken a gamble on a tonne of stock, literally, packaging, labelling, stall, etc and didn’t really know how it was going to go.

In about 6 hours I’d sold nearly $3k worth of product and I thought, okay, this is going to work.

What’s next for TumeriX?

We are focused on expanding our retail distribution footprint in Australia across healthfood, pharmacy and grocery. The feedback we have been receiving from our customers is just phenomenal and we are really pleased to hear that our products are making a positive difference to people’s lives.

So now I want to make sure we have a wider distribution network to make it easier for people to access across the country because not everyone shops online or at markets and fairs.

We also have plenty of new products in the works and are about to launch our soap and hand cream range. I’m also currently working on formulations for our food range and have been approached about a range for pets. Lots to do!!

Personally, I am also very focussed on making sure our packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible. I am working with a Melbourne company to develop the most recyclable wrapping possible for some of our new food products and will continue to work with our existing packaging suppliers on the existing range to find better ways of packaging our products.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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