"Live Well, Enjoy Life." Meet the Company Owners, Mike and Valerie
There’s an inscription on the inside of Mike and Valerie Charter’s wedding rings that reads, “Live well, enjoy life.” It’s a simple message but one that’s not always easy to follow in the day-to-day hustle of modern living.
“Sometimes you need a reminder about what’s really important in life,” says, Mike.
He and Valerie should know. Mike has spent years working in the executive trenches of the technology, consumer goods and pharmaceutical industries; along with Valerie in different countries.
“At some point we just decided it was time to do something more meaningful.”
For two years, they shopped for a business to buy. They looked at everything from tech start-ups to restaurants and even a crocodile farm. Then a gourmet Australian food business popped up. From a business standpoint, the line of Australian gourmet finishing sauces had the right ingredients: unique, artisan quality, strong sales growth and a proprietary recipe, but there was something else – a factor that Mike and Valerie could feel but not really put through a business model.
As Mike describes it, “When we talked to customers they had this almost evangelical attitude about the products, the way they tasted and the impact they had on people."
Consumers loved the products but they also really seemed to love sharing the experience.
"We’d go to store demos and it was like this instant party would spring up around the Top Mates table. Strangers would start comparing notes with each other and suggesting different food pairings and recipe ideas."
Top Mates™ seem to inspire a lot community and fun. “We really love that,” says Mike, “We both thought, 'there’s something more going on here.' It’s not just going to be a great business. It’s going to be a great way to live well and enjoy life”!
The company recently decided it was time to start offering Top Mates beyond Australia. “It was pretty obvious that the product is not just a regional thing”. Says Mike, “We were getting flooded with email requests from all over the world, especially the US, from people telling us they tried it while on vacation down under and wanted to know where to find it back home”. The company now sells Top Mates™internationally through its website with plans in the near future to move into retail grocery.