Cornwall is a county brimming with character & pride, and it’s also home to the 250-strong team behind Trewithen Dairy.

Part of the pride in the business from Owner Bill Clarke and 2nd generation MD Francis, comes down to their focus on bringing customers and the wider farming community together on their ambitious, exciting journey.

Bill & Francis join Liz & Leila on “It Runs In The Family” this week where we hear about the incredible team that Francis has assembled with brother and fellow MD George, Trewithen’s push for more sustainable practices, and how they make everyone feel valued, right from supplier to consumer.

This episode covers:

  • The single order that convinced Bill to continue growing the dairy business
  • Trewithen’s focus on inviting customers, farmers & the community on their journey
  • How Trewithen have taken pride in their Cornish branding
  • Bill’s pride in Francis & George’s ability to assemble their incredible team
  • Sustainability coming to the forefront of the dairy industry

Episode Highlights

“At the end of the first summer, we were selling very little and I thought, ‘This is a waste of time’. So I thought I’d tell customers it’s going to finish. As soon as they had a new supplier I’d stop. But the biggest one immediately said, ‘Oh no, you can’t stop. I was going to triple my order!’. I remember so clearly thinking, ‘Oh no, that means I’ve got to keep going’. Sure enough, we did, and I’m glad I did.” – 5:20 – Bill Clarke

“You must think about it from the point of view of employees, and you have to help them really feel part of something valuable. It’s something I’ve tried to get across to Francis and George, that how you make people feel within the business is critical to the success.” – 9:30 – Bill Clarke

“If you were to grow grass anywhere, you would choose to grow it in Cornwall. So from a dairy perspective it’s good. But then from a position of brand Cornwall, and Cornwall becoming quite famous over the last 10-20 years, that’s been really important. And a lot of it is about people visiting Cornwall, having fabulous memories here, and then wanting to remind themselves of that when they’re doing a weekly shop.” – 15:25 – Francis Clarke

“As a leadership team, they’ve been able to explain to all the staff precisely where the business is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, where it’s going, and invite people to join us on that journey. It comes back to the same thing I said before; the strategy is explained to the farmers and we invite them to come on board with it, and we explain it to our customers and invite them, because it won’t work without those key stakeholders.” – 25:00 – Bill Clarke

“I consider it a massive privilege for me to be in the position I am; a spectator with the family business. What could be better from my point of view?” – 27:15 – Bill Clarke

“Every so often there’s a food scare isn’t there. When that happens, people will say, ‘Well, what about Trewithen, what did they do?’, and they investigate and find that we do it correctly and appropriately. When they say ‘Oh I knew Trewithen would do it right’ – That’s real gold. ” – 32:20 – Bill Clarke

“To actually notice that the recycling bin is less full once you’re having your milk in this sustainable way, there’s nothing more tangible and real than that. Our job is to take that forward, make it convenient for people every day, and make it so that a shopkeeper can make good money out of it, we as a dairy can supply it cost-effectively, and the consumer gets all of those benefits.” – 37:45 – Francis Clarke

“However much you want family to come into the business, it’s really important to communicate that it’s entirely up to them what they do and create as many opportunities in all directions as possible. If, after that process, they come back to the business, you know that it’s for all the right reasons.” – 49:00 – Bill Clarke

“If we rewound 3 years and said that in 3 years time, we’d be where we’re standing today, we’d be delighted with that. But we’re stood here, 3 years on, actually thinking ‘I wish we’d achieved more’. There’s a real feeling of always wanting to do better and being your own worst critic, so the trick is to try and enjoy the journey.” – 54:20 – Francis Clarke

“Francis and George have, over the years, put together a staggeringly good team of brilliant people who work so well. The ability to pull together a good team requires a very diverse number of important skills, and then the world is your oyster.” – 1:01:05 – Bill Clarke


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