Our founder, Liz Sutton, reflects on 35 years!
One of our business founders Liz Sutton looks back on 35 years of Delamere Dairy, the values we hold as a business and what she thinks may lie ahead.
In The Beginning
After Agricultural college Roger, my husband and co-founder of Delamere Dairy, was thinking about business opportunities. We wanted our own farming business, yet we had no farm, no money and no milk quota. His dream was to start a dairy goat herd and he waited until we were married then sprung it on me!
Three goats were the first thing that we bought, then quickly we added more to build the herd and we were lucky enough to rent farm buildings in the beautiful Delamere Forest.
It was really hard at first, we tapped into a small demand in the mid 1980s and 35 years on there is a now very recognised goat dairy market.
It was all a bit Heath Robinson when we first started processing the milk ourselves. Outsiders acted as guarantors as we were considered a novel enterprise at the time and lots of people took interest in seeing whether we would succeed or fail.
In 1992 we moved our goats and processing to Yew Tree Farm, where our head office still operates from today. Then in 2002 we were growing so rapidly that we decided to outsource the processing to a third party. This meant that we could tap into the production resources of other companies in the knowledge that we were using state of the art processing techniques and taking advantage of new developments in production.
We continued farming until 2009 then took the decision to move our remaining goats to family farmers who still supply us with milk today.
We started as a family business and we still have very strong family values today. We are very lucky that Ed Salt and our board of directors, who run the business, continue to embrace this way of operating.
We’ve always recognised that people who work for the business are our most important assets. We respect the fact that everyone that works at Delamere Dairy has their own family and with that comes family ups and downs. Family comes first and we’ve tried to support our staff through their up and downs and shared many life experiences together. We meet socially as often as we can and all our families are involved.
You spend a great deal of your life working, so it’s important to create an atmosphere that is not only productive but that is fun as well. I hope that is something that people feel. It’s not something that we have engineered, it’s part of the culture. We have created somewhere that people love to work and we’re very lucky. We don’t have a high turnover of staff and hopefully that is one of the reasons.
Delamere Dairy embodies family values as a trusted and family friendly brand. We are considered a trusted source for health and nutrition matters, trusted by our customers and respected in the dairy trade. Delamere is viewed as a brand that has always punched above its weight – we’re up there and out there, even though we a relatively small business.
A sense of pride
I’m most proud of Delamere Dairy making a difference for the people who work with them – the staff, the suppliers, the customers and I’m very proud of the fact that we are recognised in the industry.
It’s also the little things like when you go abroad and you see the Delamere brand on the shelf, I’m still amazed and I glow with pride. One of the great things is all of the people that we’ve met through the business along the way and the places that it’s taken us to – all around the world. It has been amazing.
My favourite product is our fresh goats’ milk. It’s nectar and I believe it’s the most amazing dairy milk there is. Cows’ milk is good for you, but goats’ milk is even better.
One of the strengths of the Delamere brand is that we’ve never been afraid to be bold.
We are very focused on sustainability – we’ve got our ear to the ground which is key in any business moving forward. We’re looking at our sourcing, packaging and the transporting of our goods on an on-going basis.
We are continuing to support ground-breaking initiatives. Sometimes businesses struggle to get new ideas off the ground. So in addition to supporting our own initiatives we’re supporting others including Billy Tannery & Cabrito and continuing to build up our Delamere family, we will definitely see more of that in the future.
Who knows where we will be in the future? While people will still consume dairy, there will be other trends that we haven’t even thought of yet. On the whole we are very optimistic, we’ve always operated thinking that there are opportunities out there, despite hard times, you just need to be looking for them and be bold.
It’s too easy to find reasons for not doing something. You just have to go for it – that’s the Delamere mantra and long may it continue.