Bardsley Graduate in the Pack House Case Study

Bardsley’s at River Farm near Maidstone grows top and stone fruit and runs a pack station employing 20 on 110 hectares in Kent.

They  recruited  Gavin Phelps  (who has a degree in English and Communication from the University of Cardiff) to become their Junior Packhouse Manager  because they had found it difficult to attract graduates with a horticultural background.    You can download the full 4 page case study here.

He was already working on the packing line when the Pack house manager retired. Gavin applied for the job and Nigel and his sister-in-law, Lesley (who is in overall charge of the pack house) decided to give him a trial.

Nigel and Lesley were fully engaged in the day to day business and  the time needed for planning the future strategic direction of the business was being squeezed.

Gavin quickly got up to speed and now combines running the line with liaising with customers and other growers using the pack house. Lesley and Nigel have already planned and started on a major expansion thanks to Gavin’s presence there.

Issues in a nutshell

This is a highly responsible position which involves keeping the lines busy and ensuring that there is a consistent flow of fruit of the right quality to the supermarkets who are the main customers of the co-operative.

Getting the delivery wrong can cost the organisation a fine of up to £60,000 from the supermarket. According to Nigel, Gavin’s 3 priorities are
1. Make sure that the pack house, a stand-alone cost and profit unit, runs profitably.
2. Maximise the returns to the other growers who use the facility.
3. Make sure that the supermarkets get on-time, on-quality fruit.
Looking after the other growers is key. Nigel said “I know how it hurts a grower to see top quality fruit end up in the juice bin. We need to make sure that the growers get the best deals they can. If we let them down they can always go elsewhere” “It’s critical that we get as much efficiency as we can  since we operate in an industry with such tight margins”