Despite the change in leadership, what remains unchanged is Waldron’s focus on producing cakes and desserts of the very best quality. This comes through in many ways, particularly in the ingredients used. Everything is made from organic flour milled in the Cotswolds, fresh cream and cream cheese is sourced from the Westcountry and, when it comes to chocolate, only top-notch Belgian will do.
The wider team have brought a great deal of additional experience to Waldron’s: ‘A good example is Paul Beckwith, who heads up our bakery department,’ says Rob. ‘He owned his own bakery before he came to work with us and has brought great attention to detail to our baking. Similarly, our colleague Chris Stephens has used his cheffing skills in the business since he joined in 1988. Chris was actually a chef at one of the restaurants where Dad used to deliver cakes.’
Another long-serving member of the team is production manager Lisa Smith. Rob says: ‘Lisa didn’t have any experience in food when she came to us 20 years ago, but she’s worked her way through the ranks and is now a key member of the team.’
The family vibe and the focus on looking after each other and the customers is hugely important and what keeps the team getting up at the crack of dawn to bake trays of freshly made meringue.
‘We’ll take those sheets of meringue – which we make just like you would at home – and spread the cream on them by hand, roll them by hand and package them up by hand,’ says Rob.
That’s pretty unusual and why Waldron’s has kept its band of loyal customers for so many years. Buckfastleigh locals even rock up at the commercial bakery to pick up puds for their own special occasions and dinner parties.
Because everything is freshly made and then quick-frozen there is minimal waste. Rob says, ‘We freeze the finished cakes and desserts to -18°c very quickly. Then they’re usually delivered to customers within a couple of days, which is very speedy for our industry.
‘Even if we don’t have a product in stock – which is rare as we have a large cold store which can hold up to 150 pallets – we can make the product and deliver it to the customer within five days (some of our competitors work up to a three-week lead time).’
The team have created an array of new products, reinvigorating the range and also responding to customers’ requests for traditional and authentic bakery products made without gluten and animal products.