Name: Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses
Founded in: 1932
Tip: “Understand what part of your history adds value to your offer. Keep anything that adds value sacred – innovate around the rest.”
Fourth-generation cheesemaker Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses tries to balance heritage and innovation in its products. The firm has always retained its traditional cheesemaking processes, but also wanted a passion for experimentation to sit at the heart of the company. The challenge was learning how to communicate their vision to their 90 staff members in a way that sticks.
To make sure everyone was moving in the same direction, Butlers decided to try keeping company communications simple and informal.
The firm started holding “coffee and chat” sessions, where one of the three Hall family members would sit down with a team and talk about the company’s goals and vision for the future. The smaller groups helped to build a sense of camaraderie and ensure the conversations happened on a regular basis.
Led by business development manager Matthew Hall, the family members also tried to be more transparent about their decision-making process. Matthew believes that explaining the “why” behind any decisions helps employees to better understand the company’s vision.
“We aim to explain the ‘why’ of what we do, not just the ‘how’,” he said. “It creates a culture of creativity and continuous improvement across the business.”
Matthew is confident that the hard work has started to pay off. Internally, the culture of open communication has encouraged staff to be more curious and experiment with new opportunities.
Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses is being recognised for both product quality and innovation – the firm recently won 14 awards at the British Cheese Awards for everything from product quality to packaging design.
“Greater clarity around our purpose and core strengths has given a laser focus to our business,” Matthew said. “The work on culture has enabled the business to really move with pace.”