My memories of Woody’s

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.

 

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–  2008
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.

Arriving at a hotel in Johannesburg very early one morning.  A few hours sleep and then off to potential clients.
Arriving at a hotel in Johannesburg very early one morning. A few hours sleep and then off to potential clients.
Frozen-bacon.  A dismal failure.
Frozen-bacon. A dismal failure.
Testing products in townships in Cape Town.
Testing products in townships in Cape Town.
An early Woody's product.
An early Woody’s product.
Product testing in a township in Cape Town.
Product testing in a township in Cape Town.
The first ever product trial, done my Johan van Zyl from Deli Spices.  We injected turkey backs.
The first ever Woody’s product trial, done by Johan van Zyl from Deli Spices. We injected turkey backs.
The first Woodys logo, created by Carina Lochner.
The first Woodys logo, created by Carina Lochner.
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First Woodys promotion – two American students from UCT entered the competition and won a Magents T-shirt each.

– 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.
Oscar Klynveld at a meeting at Cater Chain, Johannesburg.
Oscar Klynveld at a meeting at Cater Chain, Johannesburg. One of the first Woody’s meetings with a potential producer.
Anton van Rooyen at a meeting in Potchefstroom.
Anton van Rooyen at an early Woodys meeting in Potchefstroom.
Ehrardt Meyer in Bloemfontein at a Shoprite show.
Ehrardt Meyer in Bloemfontein at a Shoprite show.  He has been with Woodys right from the start as part of the sales team.
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First packaging.
First packaging.
Eben and Oscar at the Shoprite show.
Eben and Oscar at the Shoprite show.
Eben and a friend and corporate consultant, Sophia Krone at the Palazzo Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.
Eben with a friend and corporate consultant, Sophia Krone at the Palazzo Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.
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Tristan, holding proofs for Woody’s labels on 29 May 2010 which we drove through to Johannesburg to pick up.

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!
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Tristan getting ready to abseil.
Will's welcome to Woodys.
Will’s welcome to Woodys.

Oscar and Trudie later joined us on an Indian Venster hike.

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Oscar and Trudie
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Tristan and Trudie looking at Oscars ascend.
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Oscar and Trudie

– 2011
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.

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Andreas Østergaard, who introduced us to the world of functional meat ingredients. This pic was taken hours after Eben arrived in Denmark. Andreas is giving his first lecture on basic meat processing.
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Kristian Nielsen, who introduced us to the magical world of spices and flavours. The pic is taken on a ferry between Denmark and Germany, on our way to visit meat factories in Poland.
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The magical city of Girona in Spain where we were introduced to high pressure injection.
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In Paderborn, Germany where we were introduced to the art of tumbling by the Henneken brothers.
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The basics of tumbling by the Henniken brothers.
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Visiting Tönnies in Germany where Susanna introduced us to the international pork trade.
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Oscar, measuring the cooking loss of products we produced in England after one of my trips.
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Visiting Danish Crown where we met Peter Birkelund, a renown processing expert. Peter and Eben remain in contact to this day.
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Two processing experts who became important in the life of Woody’s. Hendrik Jeppesen (Jeppe) and Ken Pickles. We met Ken when he was NPD Manager at Vion.
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Jeppe during product trials in a Tulip factory.
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We widely consulted with some of the best food institutes in the world.
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Kevin Picton at the Bull pub in Peterborough, helping out behind the counter. Kevin would become a close friend.
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A meeting at Vion. On the left, at the head of the table is Geoff Dobson.
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Oscar at the Vion meeting.
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Eben at the Vion meeting.

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.

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– 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.

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Production and QC staff.
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Jeppe
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Production manager and QC .
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Jeppe in a discussion with Martin Sauer.
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Jeppe, Martin and staff inspecting injection.
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QC and Abattoir manager.
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Lee Coates, Production Director.

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Construction finally started on the new factory in the old Roelcor building in 7 Assegaai Road, Kraaifontein at the end of 2012.

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An old carcass chiller was turned into a factory.
Breaking out.
Breaking out.
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An old carcass chiller was turned into a factory.
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An old carcass chiller was turned into a factory.
The electrical contractors.
The electrical contractors.
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An old carcass chiller was turned into a factory.
Woodys Kraaifontein site
An old carcass chiller was turned into a factory.
Cooling plant.
Additional cooling plant.
Tristan and Lauren helping as often as they can.
Tristan and Lauren helping as often as they can.
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Fixing old ammonia pipes.
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Laying the new floor.
Slowly taking shape.
Slicing area slowly taking shape.
Oscar, inspecting the work.
Oscar, inspecting the work.
The production area taking shape.
The production area taking shape.
Starting to look like a food factory.
Starting to look like a food factory.
Equipment started to arrive, mostly from Europe.
Equipment started to arrive, mostly from Europe.
Equipment started arriving from around the world.
Equipment started arriving from around the world.
Offloading the one packing machine.
Offloading the one packing machine.
Staff started moving into offices.
Staff started moving into offices.
Moving equipment into the factory.
Moving equipment into the factory.
Oscar, Eben and Willem.
Oscar, Eben and Willem.
Oscar, our Managing Director.
Oscar, our Managing Director.
The 1st smokehouse.
The 1st smokehouse.
The brine mixing room taking shape.  In the pic is Luke, our plumber.
The brine mixing room taking shape. In the pic is Luke, our plumber.
Tristan, inspecting the new freezer ceiling.
Tristan, inspecting the new freezer ceiling.

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Moving the old ammonia lined into the ceiling.
Moving the old ammonia lined into the ceiling.
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Andreas giving deboning training.
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Here I am taking the first meat through the injector.
Oscar testing the clipper.
Oscar testing the clipper.
Finally, bacon!
Finally, bacon!

By early April the work was completed and production started.

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Eben, Oscar, Will, Nathan, Lindsay are in the back with Alison and Lynn, our food safety consultants. Kneeling in the front, left is Andreas Østergaard, all the way from Denmark to help.
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First production day, 9 April 2013.

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First shipment of bacon leaving the factory on 13 May 2013.

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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.

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The new Woodys logo was introduced in this year.

The Woodys branding was completely re-designed under Will’s leadership along with a new corporate website and social media platforms.

–  2014
Woody’s continued to refine its processing techniques and processes.  It incorporated more aggressive marketing such as a bacon festival that we attended.

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Will, doing his magic at a bacon festival in Cape Town.
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Ehrardt and Will at the bacon festival.
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Oscar at the bacon festival.

During 2014 Woodys started expanding their marketing across the border to other African countries.

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An old church in Windhoek.
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Oscar at the Avis dam in Windhoek.

– 2015
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.

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Tristan and Eben during Tristan’s job shadowing.
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Tristan reporting back to Oscar.
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Catering bacon champion.
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Catering bacon champion.
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Roy Oliver
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On 17 June 2015 a record number of boxes bacon were sliced and packed in 24 hours. The A-team of bacon packing!
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.
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Quality took a major step forward.

The adventure continues.

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(c) eben van tonder

Bacon & the art of living” in bookform

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