You can’t help but like Boyd Tunnock. Mind you, you might not understand him when he gets that Scottish brogue going, but it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy his company nor recognize his achievements. But then, what’s not to like about a man that’s responsible for producing Tunnock’s Teacakes, a delicate combination of Italian meringue, biscuit and chocolate. (Of course, those Tunnock Snowballs, Caramel Wafers and Caramel Logs are wonderful as well!)
It’s also hard not to be impressed with someone who long ago figured out that midsized doesn’t mean you have to think or act smaller than you are. For the past 15 plus years, Boyd has - as he states in this month’s cover story - kept the Tunnock Ltd. factory “up to standards” by investing in technology and automation on an annual basis.
Be it replating baking plates on Vicars ovens, refurbishing SIG packaging machines or installing a new Schubert pick ‘n place robotic line, Tunnock has not been afraid to take advantage of processing breakthroughs. Last year alone, the company spent nearly $9 million keeping the plant up to standards.
At the same time, he’s adamant about maintaining quality, so much so that he’s not timid in retaining traditional techniques to ensure that Old World quality and fl avor remain in his products.
So if it means holding continuously cooked caramel in a retention kettle for about a half hour or so to maximize the fl avor, so be it. And if it means purchasing albumen in crystal form from the United States so that the cream in a Teacake holds up better, that’s the way it is.
“I like what I make, myself, and what I like, I make,” the 78-year-old Scotsman explains.
There’s more to Boyd Tunnock that specialty confections, mind you. The avid sailor - he owns a Moody 38 sailing boat christened Lemarac (caramel spelled backwards) - has helped sponsor many a race on the Clyde (the river that runs through Glasgow and fl ows toward the west coast of Scotland).
He’s also a member of several yachting clubs, contributing both funds and sweets to keep the sailing tradition alive and well in Scotland.
And although he owns a 2010 Ghost Rolls Royce (Tunnock admits it’s an indulgence he inherited from his father, pointing out that if his staff see a Morris Minor sitting outside the factory, it’s time to start worrying), the grandson of founder Thomas Tunnock doesn’t put on any airs.
As his son-in-law and the company’s operations/sales director, Fergus Loudon, says, “a more generous and unassuming man you’ll never meet.” Unfortunately, Loudon believes - and I believe Fergus is right on this point - the confectionery industry doesn’t “breed personalities like Boyd Tunnock anymore.”
Indeed, in today’s world of quarterly reports and multinational acquisitions, personality pales before Power- Point presentations.
There’s cause to celebrate, however. Tunnock notes that his father worked until he was 86. He plans to surpass that mark, setting his sights on being active and still at work at the ripe wonderful age of 100. Given that the man comes to the plant every morning at 6 a.m., a mere 350 steps away from his home, I wouldn’t wage money against this Scotsman.
As the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns (Tunnock happens to be born on the same day Burns was, January 25) writes “From scenes like these old Scotia’s grandeur springs.”