SUCCESS STORIES

INTERVIEW – Sir Archibald Boyd Tunnock, CEO of Thomas Tunnock Limited

Tell us about the creation of your company, the history of your family since the beginning in 1890, with Thomas Tunnock.

The story of Tunnock starts in 1890 when my great Grand-Father Thomas Tunnock bought a shop for 80 pounds, which was a lot of money at that time, to open his bakery, here in Uddingston.

In 1952, your father Archie, had the idea of the Caramel Wafer. Can you tell us more about that?

After the war, he began to sell cakes and then had the idea of the Caramel Wafer. They had layers of caramel between wafers and worked very well. At that times, sweeties were rationed, but caramel on wafer was not rationed and things just took off. Then came the snowballs and the caramel log, and finally the tea-cake .

Where did Tunnock get the great idea of the Tea-Cake?

The idea of the tea-cake came in 1957, from one of our agents, Mr. Watson, who said “Why not take the snowball cream, put it onto a biscuit covered with chocolate?” With the meringue, it’s a different eat, it melts in your mouth. At that time we did 3,000 boxes per week and today we do 100,000 boxes.

Everything grew quite quickly. We started by hand wrapping the tea-cake, passing them through a brush that we developed. Today, the way the teacakes are wrapped is still the same, through our own brush, but it’s done automatically by the BNK machines of Sapal.

And today you’ve built a great company!

My grand-father started it, my father carried on. Actually, I am only half the man my father was. My father died 38 years ago and I’ve been in this seat for 30 years. We all work without counting hours, but you know, there’s no time when you’re in business for yourself. We have created something and by advertising, we’re still here.

If you had to start over, would you do it the same way?

There’s more fun in travelling than there is when you get to your destination, you know. I can’t think of anything else I would like to be doing! I think you have to keep it simple, know what you’re doing and employ good people: engineers, programmers, electricians…

When did you start working with Sapal and why?

At the beginning, the first machines we got were machines called Geneva movement, a disc with 10 holes. Sapal was already the Rolls Royce! We bought our first Sapal Machine in 1974, it was a BNK. And we have bought practically one every year after that. Sapal wrapping machines are the best. I knew they were very very good, because they had their own oil bath system. We have bought many of their machines and have also rebuilt some. I remember being at Sapal in the early 80’, they were building their factory in Ecublens and it was so full of machines and containers waiting to be assembled you could hardly distinguish one machine from the other! They are so well built, and now, of course, with modern electronics, they are even better.

Why do you still work with us despite the competition?

If I’m working with Sapal it’s for the reliability, the robustness of the machines, the low Maintenance required and the Machine Efficiency. And also for the human relationship. They are always there for me. And of course, for the Life Cycle of the Machines

What do you think are the strengths of Sapal?

Well, you know, it’s like swiss watches. You could buy other watches, but the swiss ones are the most reliable. Swiss people have always been famous for being very accurate in everything they do. If there was a better machine than the BNK of Sapal, I would buy it, but there’s not a better machine in the market. It works well and it’s easy to operate. It’s important, you must buy machines that operators like that are easy to work with.

I looked at the competition and other machines can run as well at 120 per minute, but the BNK could run up to 200 per minute…and they are running 24 hours a day !

The whole efficiency of the Sapal machines is really important. And for the operators, they are great because they are so easy to work with. Our operators like them

The reliability and the after-sales services are very good, super. And It’s much better now that they are on their own. We are also happy with the relationship with our contact people.

You have 23 Sapal machines in your factory: 17 BNK and 6 DPN-7, can you tell us how old they are and how do they work?

The life cycle of these machines is amazing. For example, one of our lines containing 4 BNK’s which are more than 20 years old and these machines are running ok, but we will send them back to Sapal for an overhaul. They’ll replace all the needed parts and they will be running for another 20 years! It is rare to have problems, because they have sensors that do not let the machine run if something wrong happens. Sapal engineers perfected a lot of things on the machine all over the years

The quality of packaging of our products is of course very important to us. The foil has to be very tight even on uneven surfaces, which our BNK machines do perfectly well.

INTERVIEW – Stuart Loudon: Project Manager at Thomas Tunnock Limited

I imagine that efficiency and quality of the packaging are the most important things you’re looking for in the machines. What could you say about the Sapal Machines?

I think that for the efficiency and the quality of the packaging, for the product that we are trying to run the Sapal BNK and the DPN 7 machines that we have are the perfect machines for the job. Over the years, we’ve tried different types of machinery, but we stick with Sapal, because Sapal are the best in the business for this type of machine, this is why we have always kept our relationship with Sapal.

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