Tucker’s Natural Gourmet Cracker range was originally developed from a shared philosophy of husband and wife team Sam and Cindy Tucker. Both were active sports people with a strong interest in health and well-being who wanted natural, healthy products in their diet.
So when the opportunity arose of developing a cracker that was GMO-free, contained no artificial preservatives, flavours or colourings, was free from yeast, soy and MSG, and looked like something the consumer market was asking for, they jumped in – and in 2007, the Tucker’s Natural Gourmet Cracker range was launched.
Ben Reynolds and others from Oreon Partners have worked with Sam (and Cindy, who still works in the business when not busy with the couple’s three young boys) from the company’s initial start-up and have continued to support the business as it has grown into a household brand. Today, Tucker’s Natural is Australia’s most-awarded cracker company, having won 77 medals to date.
“Winning ‘Championship Biscuit’ at the 2018/19 Royal Sydney Fine Food Show for one of our flagship products was exhilarating for the whole company,” says Sam. “It really provided the ultimate recognition for our dedicated bakers.”
Sam says that the company’s biggest challenge over the years has been achieving a good balance between many areas of the business, including:
- Securing distribution and sales
- Managing business investment sufficient to meet current and future needs while achieving a solid ROI
- Understanding the changing demands of customers, consumers, workforce, government and suppliers
- Understanding and meeting regulatory requirements
- Technological changes
- Managing rising costs whilst remaining price competitive and profitable
- Securing new production equipment through a defaulted supply contract
Key Challenges During COVID-19
As for so many businesses, the rapid changes that came about due to COVID-19 were difficult. The company’s first priority was to ensure all staff were safe and protected. They set up and implemented a plan within days, following government health and Business SA guidelines and providing daily updates to the team.
“Communication was key, so everyone from the office to the production floor was informed and educated on the processes required to keep our workplace safe,” says Sam.
“Our sales environment was also very challenging – orders went through a roller coaster of highs and lows. The supply chain from end to end was disrupted and it was important that we remained flexible to meet these daily changes.”
Obviously, these swings had an impact on cash flow. “The support of our financial partners at Oreon was integral in helping us manage market fluctuations and in ensuring we met our compliance and reporting requirements,” says Sam.
Keys To Success
When asked about the keys to his success, Sam says, “First and most importantly, it’s having the support of my wife, Cindy, and my three boys. They’re my foundation.”
He said that other major factors include:
- Having a vision: For Tucker’s, that vision is “Better, naturally!” The company focuses on producing all-natural snacks that complement their customers’ healthy lifestyles, ensuring that they always deliver on exceptional taste and contribute positively to their customer’s lives
- Having brilliant staff at every level who work together as a family
- Having courage and persistence – and at times when the odds seem stacked against you, going back to the vision
- Building great relationships and partnerships in all areas of the business
- Keeping fit and healthy to cope with the challenges of running the business
Advice For Other Business Owners
When giving advice to new entrepreneurs, Sam says, “I would say research, ask, research and ask until you’re very certain about your vision and then do a business plan in conjunction with your financial partner. It’s a bumpy ride and you need courage and a dogged persistence.”
For current business owners, he says the same advice applies, but also advises, “Maximise your relationships to get assistance and guidance when needed and ensure you’re surrounded by great staff who can support you on this journey.”
His additional recommendations include:
- Take the time to manage and minimise risk within supply and customer contacts
- Structure and document your dealings wherever possible so that you’re in control of funds, milestone payments, claims and final product or service acceptance
- Plan for the worst and aim for the best. Always put cash flow as your highest priority when structuring your dealings – cash is king and COVID-19 has taught us that you can never have enough for the unexpected
- Be nimble and quick! Consumer trends change rapidly, and you need to adjust quickly to take advantage of these market changes.
The Role Of Oreon Partners
“Oreon Partners has been a critical part of my support team and an integral part of the growth of my business. Their advice and knowledge cannot be underplayed or undervalued,” says Sam. “I rely on them to provide me with sound financial advice and strategies, and they ensure we meet our compliance requirements and remain up-to-date with the latest information and legislation.”
Oreon Partners recently helped Sam’s team transition over from their existing business software to Xero. As the business has grown Oreon has introduced Tucker’s Natural to an inventory management program called Unleashed, which has helped the company calculate costs and better identify units on hand.
The Future Of The Business
The company just received (at long last) a new production line from Germany – a $3m investment that will improve production and outputs and serve as the foundation for the company’s growth over the next 10-20 years, both in Australia and globally.
“We know the healthy snacking market is growing and we are now in an even better position to compete globally,” says Sam.
To find out more and see their great range of products visit Tucker’s Natural.