It’s a long way from the small rundown bakery he bought a lifetime ago
and the work to get to this point has been enormous but Eddie is so excited about the future prospects, and while sons Ben and Tom now play major parts
in the business along with business partner Michael Welch,
Eddie says it’s too exciting for him to retire just yet.
Where will all these pies go? To a strong growth market in Japan, to Singapore, Hong Kong, all the Pacific Islands, and of course you’ll definitely be able to pick an unbranded one up at your local BP Service Station or branded ones from supermarket freezers and basically, anywhere BidFood distributes them.
The secret to Dad’s Pies success, according to Eddie is its people
and the quality of its products. While he’s turning to automation,
which he believes all commercial bakeries should consider,
not a single staff member will lose their job.
“Right now we’ve got 95 in the team and every single one belongs here. We want the people who want to be here and we’ll look after them. Just call it a big All Black team. We want people to be part of a successful team; that’s the challenge for every employer. Every good employer will say ‘the success of your business is entirely up to the quality of your staff.’ Therefore they are your number one investment and you’ve got to make sure you look after them.
This year Dad’s Pies won the NZ Bakels Supreme Pie Awards gold in the Commercial category, fending off challenges from several other commercial bakeries though Eddie says it is a friendly competition among them.
“We have competitors in the commercial business but I don’t see other commercial bakeries as my competitors. I think McDonalds and KFC are bigger competitors than our fellow pie makers in terms of, if you want to go for a bite and you have $5 in your pocket, is it going to be spent at Eddie’s or is it going to be spent at Colonel Saunders?
“One of the big advantages of a pie that is properly made is you can drive away, eat a pie, roll a ciggy, and still listen to the radio. You can’t do that with a burger. The cost-effectiveness of a pie goes far beyond the price that you pay, so that’s what we’ve got to promote!” says Eddie, tongue in cheek, but it does sum up many a ‘tradie’ and a key part of the pie market; not that he’s endorsing smoking!
“The way I see the NZ Bakels Pie Awards is it is a fantastic thing for our industry to raise the bar; for everybody in our industry to participate and to compete. Competition lifts the quality and lifts performance whether it is in business or in sport. I’ve always said to the guys at Bakels ‘what you guys organise is so important for our industry. First of all, it puts the pie in a positive forefront rather than a clip on the ear because you shouldn’t eat pies, but that’s a load of nonsense because pies can be an absolutely nutritious pocket of goodness, it depends on how it is made and the ingredients used.”
Eddie says: “Not everybody who produces pies feels the same way but I have no doubt because of the competition, more and more people come up with some really good gourmet ideas using top quality ingredients, at least for the competition; the secret is to carry on doing it once the competition is over because that will attract your customers on a continual basis.”
He says the only secret in everything we buy to eat, “and pies are such an emotional product” is having the feeling that you had value for money irrelevant of the cost. You might buy a $3, $5 or even $10 pie but do you feel you had a nourishing meal from it? You’d pay $13 for a gourmet burger so why not $10
for a serious gourmet pie that is a full, nourishing meal?
“At the end of the day, you’re going to go back where you bought a pie that you feel you had value for money. Obviously, the market for a $10 pie is not as big as a $2 pie but it is changing because of the competition; it brings in new ideas;
it brings in better quality and it stirs up the juices for people to say
‘I’ve really got to make this better than last year or I’ve got to make
it better than my competitor.’”
“At the end of the day you are only as good as the next pie you produce.”