Page 9 - Food&Drink July 2019
P. 9

FOR an engineer, Stick Seach makes great ice cream. In a plant he has built from scratch, every week Seach and his team produce 30,000 ice cream sandwiches to distribute all around the country. His current goal is to double that.
Ice cream was not really part of Seach’s life plan but his friend, Pat Monnot changed that. Monnot was studying commercial ice cream manufacturing in the US and wanted to make ice cream sandwiches. “He didn’t know where to start, so I told him to ‘just make some ice cream’, work out how to sell it and then test it out on the weekend,” Seach says. At his own loose end, Seach helped out and Pat and Stick’s was born.
We did everything else ourselves for many years, he says, making 800 ice creams “in a big week”. Today, the company has a dozen staff and makes 800 ice creams in 20 minutes.
The only thing that has changed is the equipment. While refining and perfecting the original product, Seach was also developing the equipment to produce it.
“This is where the first engineering bit came in. We
reached a point where they had engineered a production line around their “awesome product, not the other way around like big companies”.
While he is “technically” now an ice cream man, Seach says he is more of an engineer than when he left university. “We modify and design machines from scratch to do exactly what we need,” he says.
It is a point of pride for him, that Pat and Stick’s ice creams look exactly like they do on the packet.
Current production is around 30,000 ice cream sandwiches a week, but capacity is far greater. Seach talks frankly about how changes in consumer knowledge, attitudes and social media have made them rethink the business and look at ways to draw in new customers.
When they started, the
ice cream sold itself, he says. “We were educating the market. People would come to us expecting ice cream between slices of bread. Then, because our product was so good, it took off. We had all the big names in hospitality and food media supporting
Stick Seach is as
passionate about ice cream as he is tall. And he is very very tall.
“ We’re making a frozen product, with power costs and raw ingredient costs going up constantly. And we’re trying to send
ice cream across huge distances in one of the hottest countries on earth. It’s crazy.”
hold, like no sugar and paleo, and the ‘better for you’ market segment grew. And then social media hit.”
“We realise now that our loyal, longstanding customers are our brand ambassadors and a part of our campaign to bring in new customers.
“We’ve got the production capability for about 70,000
ice cream sandwiches per week,” he says, “In a solid 10 hour shift, we can bake around 40,000 cookies for 20,000 sandwiches. It’s a special process, but it’s efficient.”
While Seach’s bespoke machineryand industriousness keeps their costs down, one thing he is adamant they will never do is cut costs on is quality ingredients.
They have used the same Tahitian vanilla bean and extract since they began. “It’s gorgeous and we love it. As an ice cream company, you establish yourself with a flavour profile. You don’t
change that. Even when someone says we can save fifteen per cent a kilo, it’s a ‘no’ from us,” he says.
“We’ve made our production line more efficient and our business
processes more efficient, all so we can keep the ingredient quality in there. We buy Australian almonds and pecans, we use real milk and cream instead of anhydrous milk fat. Sure, AMF is cheaper, but natural is better.
“The other half of our product is in the cookie, so we’re the same with that: no margarines, no vegetable fat, just butter. Butter is ridiculously expensive now, but, if we cut it out, we wouldn’t have our product. It’s got to be the real deal.”
Tomeetchangingconsumer tastes, Pat and Stick’s Homemade
made a really simple machine that we knocked up with some bits and pieces my dad and I had in the shed on the farm.
“It cost us about $12 and ran the factory for four years, we probably made a million items on it. We knew how to make very high quality ice cream sandwiches. They looked like they were mass produced, but really they were all handmade. All we did was keep keep making the machine better.”
Seach says they eventually
and promoting us. That can be a dangerous mindset.”
While their focus is still the same – to make the best quality ice cream sandwiches on the market – Seach admits they need to look outward for new customers as well as product development. “Since Pat and Stick’s started, the consumer landscape has changed, he says. MasterChef blew the food industry wide open and made everyone an expert. Then all the food movements started to take

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