Over summer I enjoyed so many fun times with family and friends, many of these included eating delicious food. Some of the food that I had on many occasions was from Tucker’s Natural. Being Winter now here in Australia and it being rather chilly, I’m often reminiscing about the warmer months and it reminded me of all those fun times, with my curiosity wanting to find out more about the man behind Tucker’s Natural, Sam Tucker.
TMHS: Tell me some more about Tucker’s Natural and how it has developed since you started?
ST: The Tucker’s Natural brand was launched 7 years ago this September, and since then the business has grown from 1 oven in a 300m2 factory to a 2,000m2 factory with 4 ovens producing over a million packs of crackers each year. Initially, we launched with our flagship Gourmet Crackers, but we have built on that significantly to create a range of 34 products, including our health-focused Multifibre Snacks range, our Everyday Smart Snack products and even fruit pastes.
Our family has a food business background, so when we couldn’t find what we wanted to eat on the supermarket shelves, it wasn’t too much of a jump for us to decide to make our own! We don’t want to eat preservatives or artificial flavours, so we left them out, along with things like MSG, soy and yeast. We also decided to make our products GMO free, and take pride in evolving our business and products with the changing needs and tastes of our customers.
We have always been, and always will be, focused on making our products as tasty, healthy and Australian as we can make them!
TMHS: What are some of your highlights in the business, both for the business as a whole and personally?
ST: Recognition for the whole team behind Tucker’s Natural in esteemed food industry awards, the Royal Sydney Fine Food Awards, has been a definite highlight. We have won 19 medals over the past 4 years including ‘Best in Class’ in 2 categories. As we continue to build momentum for our health -focused products (including healthier snacks for kids), the feedback from consumers is wonderful – not much can beat the warm fuzzies you get when someone reaches out to say they love what you do.
As an individual, winning the Young Leader award in the SA Food Industry Awards was a great ‘feather in the cap’ moment for me, and this has been followed more recently with my nomination as ‘Entrepreneur of the Decade’ in 2013. I am also really proud of my work with the wider food industry as a board member of Food South Australia and the success of my yearly project the Gourmet Goodie Bag, which aims to promote South Australian owned and produced food brands to visitors of the Royal Adelaide Show.
TMHS: Your family has been involved in the food business for many decades. Was it a natural progression for you to be involved in the food industry?
ST: I started out as many do in the hospitality industry, and the passion grew from there! I’m actually a qualified chef, but don’t tell too many people or I’ll have to start cooking at all our dinner parties. It has definitely helped to have the support and experience of my family in the background.
TMHS: Did you always have strong ambition in business or was it something that developed as your business grew?
ST: I always had an eye for any opportunity to make a dollar, and a passion for sales and business. This certainly has developed over the 17 years that I have been in the food industry and running my own business, and was supported by my ongoing studies (12 years mostly part-time) through to an Advanced Masters of Business through Adelaide Uni.
TMHS: Do you have a mentor? If so, how important do you think their guidance and advice has been?
ST: I have people I respect and that have been critical to my success.
My wife Cindy who is the most organised person I know and which has helped me to become so also. She also taught me through her own success to focus only on what we are doing and not worry about what other competitors are doing or if they are copying us.
John Tucker (Dad). He has years of experience in corporate and business dealings and been able to provide legal advice and guidance to ensure our company’s success.
My best friend and branding genius Thomas De Masi and the team at De Masi Jones. They help brand and position our Tucker’s Natural products and have had an ongoing and critical role in our success.
The late and great Dody Tucker (Mum) for her unconditional love and support.
TMHS: Three things you can’t do without in your day?
ST: Aside from family – Morning coffee, mobile phone, and selling something.
TMHS: Favourite quote?
ST: People who love food are always the best people! – Julia Child
TMHS: Where can readers find more about Tucker’s Natural?
Other: In the biscuit and health food aisles at Coles, Woolworths, Foodland, IGA and other leading retailers