Q&A's

Marino Morelli, Logistics Manager and Product Development for Morelli’s

Marino Morelli, Logistics Manager and Product Development for Morelli’s, discusses a typical day in the world of ice-cream and unreliable Northern Irish weather...

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
Apart from a brief stint in the Royal Navy, I have worked in the family business for over 30 years. I live in Portrush and have four kids, Natalia, Elena, Dario and Carlo and one grandchild, Noah, with another one on the way. I have recently taken over the role of product development after our father Guido passed away last year. Big shoes to fill, but I find this role really rewarding!

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE?
Due to the nature of our business, no two days are the same. Working as a family means that you often go where you are needed and so the role varies. My day typically begins with getting the vans loaded and ready for their deliveries. I work out the driver routes and move stock from different storage locations. I then spend some time in the office either working on new ideas, or helping within the various departments of the business.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
I would have to say the highlight was when our Double Cream Vanilla ice cream won Champion of Champions (the highest accolade in the industry) in London, 2012. It was a very special moment and I felt proud because our father Guido put so much time and effort in to perfecting our recipe. This, and all our awards have helped to increase and grow the business.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I enjoy working with our suppliers. We have some great friends in the ice cream industry. I really enjoy this time of year because representatives from the different Italian flavour houses who we work with come over and we experiment with new flavours for the season. I also sit on the Ice Cream Alliance board of directors representing Northern Ireland. We have quarterly board meetings and I really enjoy meeting up with my fellow directors to discuss everything ice cream!

WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK?
The most difficult task for me is coming up with new flavours and ideas. Sometimes what we like, may not be so commercially viable. We have enlisted the help of the University of Ulster’s Consumer Studies department in the past few years who have helped us a great deal with this task.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
As a teenager, my first job was helping my grandfather in the Sundae Garden in Portstewart. I used to stand on a crate and fill the minerals. My grandfather (Nonno) always said, ‘look after your customers, don’t let them down and they will return time after time’. I greatly admired his work ethic and that always stuck with me. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE? My biggest gripe, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, is the Northern Ireland weather. In our business, especially, business can be very unpredictable and the weather is a huge factor. The past few summers haven’t been great, so fingers crossed, we are due a good one this year!

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?
Music is a real passion of mine. I would love to have the patience to learn an instrument, specifically the guitar. I would also have liked to learn to speak Italian properly. I get by, but I’m nowhere near fluent.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS / AMBITIONS?
I would love to see the family business continue to grow from strength to strength. I would like for us to explore different export markets. The friendships we have developed in the ice cream industry are invaluable to us. There’s always someone’s experience to draw from and plenty to offer friendly help and advice. It’s nice to have that camaraderie within the industry.

WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
I admire Richard Branson. From starting a student magazine to building up Virgin records, he has over 400 companies. The man has simply done good!

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?
My favourite place is San Andrea. It’s the village our family originates from in Italy. It’s about 90km South of Rome. It’s a special place, authentically Italian, rural and picturesque. It’s the perfect place to wind down after a busy summer season. The good weather and the glorious food are a bonus.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?
Well, it has to be ice cream! Pasta, however, is a close second. My favourite flavour of ice cream is Pistachio. At the recent Ice cream expo in Harrogate, I was a judge in the Pistachio ice cream category, so I was in total heaven. Pasta has always been a big part of our lives. I cook pasta every Sunday for my kids. Sunday is always a family day where we catch up and spent some time together.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?
I really enjoy spending time with my family. We all get on well, and enjoy a bit of craic outside work. I enjoy going to music gigs and I like to keep abreast of what’s happening in the local music scene. I’m very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, the North Coast can’t be beaten for its scenery and there’s no shortage of beauty spots for me to enjoy a lovely long walk. I’d be lost without Spotify, I listen to a lot of music. I enjoy discovering new bands and I also compile the odd pub quiz. I have my own decks, so I do also do a little bit of DJing in my spare time.

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