A day in the life of Bob Buck

09 June, 2006
From dodging speed cameras on his way to an organic exhibition to promoting authentic French flour to craft bakers, Bob Buck of miller FWP Matthews is a busy man
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Bob Buck, Technical Sales Manager at FWP Matthews

Company: FWP MATTHEWSJob title: TECHNICAL SALES MANAGERLocation: BEDFORD6amI知 naturally an early riser. I got into the habit as a 17-year-old school leaver when I first joined the baking industry. At 6am the alarm goes off, but I知 usually up already. I catch up on the news, have my first nicotine hit of the day and make sure I know the traffic news, as I知 out on the road pretty much all day.Breakfast is a strong coffee and scrambled eggs with a hand-baked baguette. The bread is the healthiest part of my morning!6.50amI知 in the car and starting the first journey of the day from my home in Bedford with my new best friend, the Road Angel, which is a satellite navigation system that also tells me when I知 near a speed camera.Mid-mornings are always the best time to visit bakeries due to bakers early morning schedules. I cover the whole range of customers, from small retail bakers to large manufacturers, and I aim to have at least five appointments a day. Sometimes I値l drive past a baker I致e never come across, pull over, drop in a card and a brochure and get talking.I was in Newcastle earlier this week and opened a new account that way with someone interested in our imported French flours. It痴 funny, but I致e never had a situation where someone has said 渡ot interested not once. In my experience bakers will usually give you time and, if they can稚, they池e happy to make a future appointment.10amI知 visiting Earl痴 Court Olympia in London for the Organic Products Europe exhibition, which is held every year, and where we are exhibiting our flours. Around 60% of our business is organic, so the show gives us a good opportunity to make new contacts with manufacturers that are interested in moving into organic production.10.40am I get a wonderful lead from one visitor a muffins and cakes manufacturer, which supplies the multiples, based in London. He is looking for an organic muffin mix something that is, as far I know, not yet available on the market.We are seeing demand for organic flours grow and there are definitely untapped niches in organic morning goods, cakes and muffins. I arrange a meeting again to discuss how totake this forwards, and start thinking about sourcing organic ingredients suppliers to develop the idea.12pm After my visits, I have lunch. Mostly I am lucky to be able to taste the bakeries wares; otherwise I have to get my wallet out! Like most people, I watched the calories after Christmas, but this was not helped by having to sample the wonderful products in the bakeries I visit. I have a soft spot for croissants, made with flour from French miller Moul-bie, which we supply. Moul-bie痴 speciality French flours produce breads and pastries that even a Frenchman would die for!1pm My afternoons pretty much follow the same pattern each day, unless I知 in our Cotswold office in Chipping Norton. Normally, I pop into the office once a week, although I致e got my laptop up and running now yeehah, at last! So it痴 likely to be once or twice a month from now on.As bakers tend to work nights and early mornings, I spend afternoons making appointments for the following weeks. I also drop in to see potential customers or visit existing ones to see how they池e getting on. I知 fortunate as I知 an experienced baker myself, so I can help with any technical questions.2pmI make a few calls to remind customers of the range of conventional, organic, French and Danish flours that FWP Matthews supplies. I like to be able to deliver the odd bag of flour, if a customer has a special requirement, and the afternoons are the best time to drop anything off.3pmThis is a good time to spot any retail opportunities for pre-packed flour. In the spring, we launched a new 7.5kg pack size for our Cotswold flours for breadmakers, so I need to make sure all customers know about this.While driving between customers, I知 reminded of the people back in the office. They tease me about my car and my Nigel Mansell tendencies (hence the Road Angel). My car has lots of fancy extras, including Bluetooth, but I must admit to being a bit of a technophobe. Now I知 used to it, the laptop is great and I keep all my contacts as well their notes on it. I知 even getting into sending emails!4.30pmTowards the end of the afternoon I have time to discuss other opportunities, such asbakery demonstration days and any free technical visits required to bakeries from the Moul-bie team of expert bakers.The French side of our business is on the up. It offers something different to the independent baker and something to fight back with on the high street. People go to France, they sample the authentic breads from a boulangerie, and they池e delighted if they can find those breads in a British bakery when they come back home. It痴 something the supermarkets don稚 do and speciality French breads offer good margins too.6pmAfter a busy day, I get back home to Bedford, update the database and reply to my emails. As it痴 a family-run business, Paul and Graham Matthews like to have a daily report to keep them up to date on everything I致e done that day. I also use this time to research new areas and customers, for which I知 a fan of Google and Yell.8pmAs well as baking, I enjoy all aspects of cookery and often entertain in the evenings. I知 a flight simulator addict and can spend a few hours on the computer recreating my childhood fantasy of being a pilot. Although I love the food industry, flying is a passion of mine and, on the longer summer evenings, I book flying lessons. I have busy days but I知 also going to squeeze in some extra gym sessions as the nature of my job means I知 sitting (and eating) for a lot of the day.11pmAfter catching up with friends and family, I turn in, ready for another early start.

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