Donna Harrall, Richard Davies, Anthony James and Hywel Price at Cambrian Pet Foods
If you visit Cambrian Pet Foods factory, in the old Creamery, the first person you'll meet is smiling Receptionist Donna Harrall. Donna comes originally from Carmarthen but has lived at Carreg Sawdde for eleven years and can be seen walking her dogs around and about there. While you wait a few minutes for whatever is your appointment, Donna will offer tea or coffee and sit you down on the sofa. Donna doesn't only meet and greet visitors - she multi-tasks with photocopying, dealing with the incoming and outgoing post, routing phone calls to whoever they need to go, preparing refreshments for meetings, running the Purchase Ledger, and more.
Boss Richard Davies runs the business which is all about making and selling “wet” pet food. The brand is “Gelert” and all the food labels are “Country Choice”. It's in tins in imaginative varieties including Tripe and Chicken, and in sealed platters like ready meals. (Richard's brother Jonathan runs their other factory in Pencader where they make “dry” pet food - that is the sort that you buy in different sizes of packets, and those flavours include Rice and Fish, irresistible to a happy cat.)
The whole family business was started by their father David Davies in 1982, in Pencader. In those days he made his pet food in a very small “factory” and sold it from the back of a van to village shops and petrol stations. Humble beginnings. Now Cambrian sells all over the UK and exports to the Europe mainland and as far away as Russia and Nigeria. To give an idea of how much they make in Llangadog, it's nearly a million tins a week, 30 artic lorries worth. If you put all that in the main room in our Community Hall it would be about 3 metres, or 10 feet, deep.
Cambrian bought the Creamery in 2005. It has needed some rebuilding but has good clear spaces for their equipment - this short video https://vimeo.com/206695882 gives an idea of what happens inside - and highlights the delightful rural setting. They don't use the Creamery tower at the moment but, as Richard said, food production needs gravity to help to move materials between stages of production and they could get four “layers” in there. So maybe one day …
Apart from having good products at the right price, Richard stressed that the secret of their success is to be the very best for customers to do business with - no hassle, deliveries always of the right products always on time, paperwork and invoices always accurate, and always positive responses to incoming enquiries. All this is easy to say but challenging to do. And you have to be seen by suppliers in the same way.
If you drive past the old Creamery, two people you are sure to see in action some time are Anthony James and Hywel Price. They are Cambrian's fork-lift-truck drivers, unloading pallets of incoming materials (it's all ready for use - no slaughtering on site or anything gruesome like that) and loading pallets of finished pet food on the delivery trucks, in all weathers, and other jobs too. Anthony's home is in Manordeilo and his father lived at Square and Compass. For both drivers one of the best things about working at the factory is perhaps a bit obvious - it's close to home - and many of their colleagues would highlight the same advantage. There are not many job opportunities like this around Llangadog. Here he is sitting in a comfortable Meeting Room chair rather than outside in the rain that was pouring down at the time. When it's not raining, his main summertime interest is playing cricket for Llandeilo, for 30 years and continuing.
Hywel Price has always lived in Llangadog. He worked in the old Creamery a while ago and then in the saw-mills and also as a fencing contractor. He is an enthusiastic golfer and plays darts and snooker.
In fact most of the 65 or so people who work at the factory live within a few miles, so it is an important business to us because it contributes valuable spending power in our neighbourhood.
And finally, if you want more of an insight, there is a history of the development of the Llangadog factory in this web site
We can all celebrate and support this success.