A desire to help a farmer in need has proven to be a savvy business move for Newcastle's Peter Butcher.
Having spent 18 months working with Glenn and Helen Haines of Udder Farm in Luskintyre, delivering their farm-fresh milk in bottles to cafes, restaurants and small retailers, he understood the toll the ongoing drought was having on farmers. The Haines were no exception.
"Long story short, the drought has hit Glenn pretty hard out there. It's hit everyone out there. He needed extra income and I needed to make sure that he could survive through this," Butcher told Food & Wine.
"One of the local businesses he supplied went under so I talked to him and said 'Look, I'll start doing home deliveries on a Sunday afternoon, milk only'. I could see how popular Udder Farm's 750ml glass bottle of milk was out in the winery area where it was used in all the home stays - everyone raved about it.
"So we increased the range to a one and two-litre glass, and got it onto the shop shelves. Then we introduced the flavoured bottles and it's caught on like a house on fire."
Butcher was a franchisee for "the old Aussie Farmer Direct for six or seven years" in Newcastle, and had a data base of potential clients at his fingertips. He tested the waters and received favourable feedback.
"We're only 16 weeks in and it's overwhelming how big it's got, so quickly," he said.
"On my delivery runs I've started talking to more and more small businesses about how they're struggling and what their needs are. So I decided to bring other products on board, supporting the local businesses who support local producers."
The Milkman's Back now delivers products from Binnorie Dairy, Fawk Foods Kitchen & Bakery, Donarch Fine Chocolate, Little Hill Farm, Murrells Beef Jerky & Butchery, Wollombi Road Providore, Kind Earth Coffee and Kurri Kurri Hot Bread Shop.
"It's just me, myself and I doing everything," he said, laughing.
"My wife is still learning how to do the computer stuff as well as doing the invoicing and the customer service side.
"I'm loving being able to meet the customers face to face. Unfortunately we are saying no to people because they don't live in our areas - I'm only one man, with one truck - but we hope to expand our delivery areas in 2020."
The Milkman's Back schedule: Saturday - Windella and Lochinvar; Sunday - Merewether, Adamstown, Lambton, New Lambton, Cooks Hill, Broadmeadow, New Lambton, Bar Beach, The Junction; Monday - Stockton, Fern Bay, Medowie; Tuesday - Newcastle offices; Wednesday - Carrington, Wickham, Tighes Hill, Maryville, Hamilton, Mayfield, Waratah, Georgetown, Warabrook.