Tom was a personal trainer, frustrated at seeing people fill up on sugary, highly processed and chemically-charged snacks with minimal nutritional value. He spent a lot of time at Luke’s café over the road from the gym, drinking coffee and hassling him about getting a gluten-free high protein snack in the cabinet.
Together they developed a bar that tasted great and was loaded with the right mix of fats, proteins and slow-burning carbs. What it wasn’t loaded with was the artificial additives, flavours or preservatives of all the ready-made snack bars out there.
They started small
They went from making 22 bars for people they knew, to hundreds. At that point things got serious. A client of Tom’s, their now Managing Director Richard Plimmer, was an entrepreneur with skills in the food industry. He also happened to have the lease on a warehouse in Wainuiomata.
Together, they started Tom & Luke’s and began to dream of going national. As the snacks got around New Zealand, their popularity snowballed. The question of growth became not ‘what if’ but more ‘how-to’.
“We did have one point in time when we said, hey imagine what would happen if everyone in New Zealand started eating our stuff?” – Tom
Next stop, Australia
Once they had distribution through New Zealand, Australia was the next obvious choice. They already had an ‘in’ to the market – Countdown, where Snackaballs sell well, is owned by the giant Australian chain Woolworths. It was easy for the Aussies to see how Tom & Luke’s snacks were going down over in New Zealand.
Then came the machinery. Six staff could handroll 5,000 snackballs a day – that’s just over 100 each, every hour. It wasn’t going to be enough for the Aussie mega-market. They got a local engineering company to develop a Snackaball machine that could roll out 20,000 an hour.
Australia went off. Aussie’s loved the high integrity Kiwi snacks and Tom & Luke’s is now sold all over the country. They’ve had to expand to three of the machines.
Kiwibank by their side, all the way
The business has been with Kiwibank from the start with their Business Manager Jayden Devonshire supporting their growth the whole way.
“As you start off with a small business, we’re putting in our blood, sweat and any leftover coinage and as the business grows you need cashflow to do everything.” – Tom
They say it helps to have a banking partner who understand the pains you’re going through at each stage of growth. It seems there will be plenty more growing pains to come – Tom & Luke’s plan is to go global in the next few years.
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