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Four New Directors Appointed for Otago Chocolate Company

Directors Appointed for Otago Chocolate Company Ahead of Pledgeme Campaign

Four Directors have been appointed to drive the growth strategy for OCHO (Otago Chocolate Company) ahead of a PledgeMe campaign to move the company to public ownership and retain premium chocolate making in Dunedin.

The first OCHO board meeting is in Dunedin on Friday 3 November ahead of the PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign to “Own The Factory’ which will launch on Monday 13 November.

Until now, Jim O’Malley and a team of volunteers have driven and evolved the project since the announcement by Mondelez that Dunedin’s Cadbury factory would close. Initially aiming to purchase the Cadbury factory to keep confectionery production in the city, ‘Own the Factory’ has advanced its strategy to focus on premium chocolate-making and has joined forces with independently owned OCHO.

Under the guidance of Dunedin Manufacturing Holdings Incorporated Society (DMH) a campaign to purchase OCHO from founder Liz Rowe and invest in expanding its production will kick off with PledgeMe at 6am on Monday 13 November 2017. The aim is to raise $2 million.

The OCHO establishment board is; Jim O’Malley, Tami Louisson, Vito Iannece and Stewart Cowan.

Speaking on behalf of Dunedin Manufacturing Holdings Limited, Jim O’Malley said, “We were delighted with the calibre of people wanting to be part of this exciting project. We searched for a mix of people with strong practical skills especially in food and beverage and in scaling companies for expansion.”

He said the establishment board has been appointed to lead OCHO for the first 12 months and there is the potential to appoint another two directors if more skills are required. All board positions will be revised after 12 months at which stage one staff member will be appointed.

Jim was pleased to confirm OCHO founder Liz Rowe will continue working for OCHO and act as transitional CEO until an appointment is made. Other existing OCHO staff will remain part of the team.

New Zealanders are being invited to purchase part of this exciting new venture through a crowdfunding campaign which will open on PledgeMe at6am on Monday 13 November. The share offer is a little different from the ordinary. Organisers aim to attract as many $100 investors as possible and are limiting the total any one person can own to 11% so that no single investor can dominate. Instead of one or a few large 'cornerstone' shareholders, OCHO will be owned by a broad base of investors. Each share is worth $100 and all shareholders will have voting rights – and most importantly will be able to buy award-winning OCHO chocolate at a special shareholder price!



Jim O’Malley

Jim is a Dunedin City Councillor and was instrumental in starting the Own the Factory campaign and achieving the initial pledging of nearly $6M. He has 25-years' R&D experience in biomedical research in the USA. He has led project development teams at Pfizer Inc and been involved with in-licensing and joint ventures. He has also founded his own biotech company and successfully managed a $8 million project to develop a novel bone growth agent for use in orthopaedic surgery. He recently returned to live in Dunedin and has extensive experience in project management and scale-up, along with experience in the culture of large organizations.

Tami Louisson

Co-founder of SHOTT Beverages, Tami was CEO for eight years before retiring in 2015. She remains on the board. With Richard Plimmer she founded the company which has grown to employ 35 with turnover of more than $10 million, exporting half its sales. Originally trained as an artist, Tami was a silversmith and glass art worker before turning her hand to drinks. Tami was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2012 and a finalist in the Next Woman of the Year Award in 2014.

Vito Iannece

30 years ago Vito, and his wife Penny, founded Pasta d’Oro. They have grown it from a kitchen enterprise to a company employing 18 which supplies trade and supermarkets with a range of high quality artisan pasta. Vito brings start up experience in FMCG as well as experience on factory establishment. He is committed to the development of food manufacturing in Dunedin.

Stewart Cowan

Stewart is Enterprise Systems Manager at Silver Fern Farms. He is a certified public accountant and an IT specialist. He brings project management skills as well as IT systems integration. He supervises a significant number of reports and is well versed on quality control issues that are required for the farm to table tracking systems required in the meat industry. Stewart enthusiastic about the challenge of building up a strong manufacturing capability in Dunedin and the role OCHO will play in that.

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