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Real business story

It's The Small Things podcast: Tom Calver, director of Westcombe Dairy

Westcombe Dairy makes over a hundred tonnes of cheddar each year. Watch director Tom Calver talk about automating processes, driving change and what a typical day looks like.

Our ninth episode of It’s The Small Things features traditional Somerset cheese makers Westcombe Dairy. The business makes over a hundred tonnes of cheddar each year with the help of its 19 employees and a cheese turning machine called Tina Turner.

Family-run business Westcombe Dairy first produced unpasteurised cheddar back in the late 1800s. It transitioned into a creamery during World War II, before coming full circle and returning to its cheesemaking roots.

Director and head cheesemaker Tom Calver joined the business in 2008. He set about understanding the mechanics of cheesemaking and how the process could be refined to influence the end product’s taste and quality.

Today, the business still uses a number of traditional techniques, but Tom has introduced new technology to ease some of the manual labour. As a result, the team has more time to hone the natural flavour of the raw milk and push Westcombe’s cheese into a higher band of quality.

Listen and watch to learn more about how Westcombe makes its cheese, as well as Tom’s planning process and what a typical day looks for a cheese maker.

The full podcast episode is available on all major platforms and immediately below. Click through to find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Acast, Spotify and SoundCloud and subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes.

Access the full Westcombe Dairy podcast transcript

Go behind the scenes at Westcombe Dairy

“With the whole human element of physically taking the cheese off the shelves, there’s more likelihood of damage because of the different stresses and how you’re doing it. With this machine, it’s pulling it out on flat surfaces so there’s not much angle pressure at any one point, so it’s just better for quality all the way through.”

Tom Calver – Westcombe Dairy

Using automation to improve productivity and accuracy

How one business waited for technology to reach its standards before investing

Making change the right way

“Having dad involved in the business and the fact we can work together on all the changes that we need is really important. I’ll come up with lots of different ideas and then go to him and put them forward, and he asks me to focus on the numbers, do a business plan and then push forward.”

Tom Calver – Westcombe Dairy

What a typical day for Tom looks like

“No two days are the same. I do find that there’s quite a lot of firefighting with the farming and agricultural business. There are so many moving parts: I can be delivering, visiting customers, teeing up future customers, covering staff and making sure that everything is ticked off.”

Tom Calver – Westcombe Dairy

Hone your business to meet customer needs and expectations

How Cotswolds Distillery used customer feedback to develop its offering
Tom Calver at Westcombe Dairy
Case Study.

Read more about the Westcombe Dairy improvement story with our in-depth feature

Lessons learnt

Implementing the right kind of automation gives your team more time to focus on tasks they can add value to.

Having someone to talk through new ideas with creates focus and accountability.

Building strong relationships with customers can provide valuable insights.