Back in 2010 we were up against it.
After setting up in 2007, our organic pies business had a promising start. Lots of interest, lots of sales development work, not a lot of orders. Three years and lots of money spent with little to show for it.
Most of the money went on building a great bakery and most of the time on developing products, sales leads and all the systems you need nowadays to legally prove the food you are making is safe.
Three years in, we had lots of potential orders in the pipeline but the harsh reality was we had just £420 left in the bank and not enough orders to cover another month’s overhead. With just 2 weeks of cash left we thought all was lost.
Then we got a phonecall telling us that one of the leads had led to our single biggest order. The prestigious Ryder Cup was being held at the Celtic Manor in Newport and three weeks earlier we’d been asked to pitch for an Organic Pie and Mash pop-up. Five thousand pies. Two metric tonnes of mashed potato and a half tonne of organic gravy. A week to make it in. And payment within 7 days.
We rounded the (two) troops and got to work. What a week it was. Whenever we’re having a heavy week at Timberhill and we’re struggling to keep it all together we just think back to that week and how on earth four of us managed it.
But we did, and the day arrived when the delivery truck came to collect it, and backed into the yard. We began bringing out this pie feast ready to load onto the truck when the driver popped his head out of the window and said “Where’s your forklift?”.
We didn’t have a forklift. All the hauliers we used for our orders had hydraulic tail-lifts on the back of the trucks for raising and lowering pallets onto the vehicle’s cargo bed, at shoulder height.
“We’ll just use your tail-lift” we said.
“Ain’t got no tail-lift mate” came the reply. “And there ain’t no other wagons that can collect this order. I’m the only one on this run today.”
There was only one thing for it. Me, Natalie, Daniel Cannon and Martyn Reeve tightened our belts and pulled up our wellies and, with much grunting and spittle, lifted each of the seven pallets onto the truck’s payload area. By hand.
The pies made it there in time. Tiger Woods most probably ate loads of them. We got paid and so did our landlord. The order bought us enough time to convert the remaining leads into orders and keep the company alive.
Which, conveniently, brings me onto soup. We didn’t just earn a profit from that order, we learned a heck of a lot about making naturally flavourful pie sauces and gravy. Which helpfully, are the same skills needed to make great soup.
So after the Summer rest, a big welcome back to the menu for Soup & Sourdough.