Oscar and Eben created Woody’s Consumer Brands (Pty) Ltd. and we now manage and own it together with a group of friends. Woody’s is our collective story. This is not the official Woody’s story which is available on the company website. Below I share some of my personal memories.
I resigned from Goosebumps Frozen Food Logistics. The company owners, Hans Kakebeeke and Cilliers Viljoen offered to help me create a meat brand. I was unsure what products to produce. Pork, chicken or beef? I traveled the country, testing every possibility we came up with. The retailers gave us a chance on a concept of selling frozen bacon. It was a dismal failure, but bacon became our business.
Carina Lochner suggested the name Woody’s in reference to “wood smoked” products.
Woody’s started as a bacon brand produced by a 3rd party, Table Bay Meats.
2009 and 2010
On 14 April 2009, Goosebumps agrees to sell the brand name to me. Dawie Hyman was initially part of the Woody’s venture and supported me during the first year to augment the income from the sales of the Woody’s products.
Oscar Klynveld joined the venture in Nov 2009. He has been the company Managing Director right from the start. Woody’s Brands was created in January 2010 in Potchefstroom to trade the Woody’s products. On 5 Feb 2010, a meeting was held at the Palazzo Hotel, Montecasino as the first formal meeting for Woody’s Consumer Brands (Pty) Ltd.
On 18 Nov 2010 Willem Klynveld joined Woodys to take over the sales, advertising, and marketing of the company.
On 12 Nov 2010, Tristan, Will, and Eben hiked up India Venster (up Table Mountain) and abseiled down one of the cliffs to welcome Will to the company. We have always combined bacon and an enjoyment of life!
Oscar and Trudie later joined us on an Indian Venster hike.
In 2011 Oscar and Eben decided to sell half of the company to a fertiliser company, Profert in order to get the required funding to set up their own factory. Eben undertook the first of many trips to Europe in order to gain exposure in bacon factories. They had a thorough introduction into the world of functional food ingredients, spices, product development, various meat processing equipment types and equipment producers and the international pork trade.
The European experience introduced us to the fundamentals of meat processing and the requirements of running a meat plant. We became connected to the world of functional ingredients, spices, equipment and generally the art of meat processing. It was a great foundation, but not a model that can be applied without major adjustments in South Africa.
In this year I was more in the UK than in South Africa. Above all, I remember getting home.
2012 and 2013
At the beginning of 2012, I spent a lot of time in a Tulip plant just outside Bristol. Here I gained my most valuable experience.
Construction finally started on the new factory in the old Roelcor building in 7 Assegaai Road, Kraaifontein at the end of 2012.
By early April the work was completed and production started.
James Klynveld joined the company on 8 July 2013 as financial manager. Roy Oliver joined Woody’s on 1 Sept 2013 as head of production.
The Woodys branding was completely re-designed under Will’s leadership along with a new corporate website and social media platforms.
Woody’s continued to refine its processing techniques and processes. It incorporated more aggressive marketing such as a bacon festival that we attended.
During 2014 Woodys started expanding their marketing across the border to other African countries.
Woody’s became more “corporate” on 25 May 2015 and Profert’s involvement ended. June 2015 became a very important benchmark month from a profit/ loss perspective. On 17 June 2015, the record number of bacon packets to date were sliced and packed. Tristan spent a week with Will, job shadowing him. Product quality became a major focus in 2015.
In June 2013, our one smoker exploded. We survive and move on to bigger things.
In 2016 we embarked on a project where we started to change over from conventional bacon production to the grid system. Here are photos of our first attempt, through subsequent versions and onto the design that we currently use. Also included is Jason delivering our first trolly, our conveyor filling stations, and some product pictures – produced in the new system. The product features are also our first free-range products, packed on a new Seal Pack machine.
The grid system has been developed and improved over the years.
The second most important development in 2017 was when we changed our production from a supply-driven system where the production was dictated by whatever we receive on the floor as quickly as possible, by a system of planned batches which drives everything, from meat intake to the slicing program.
Also in 2017, we bought a sausage company based in Montague Gardens and the Woodys logo was again progressed.
Random photos from 2013 to 2017.
The adventure continues.
(c) eben van tonder
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