Long Service Commitment to Mackie's - Mackie’s of Scotland

Long Service Commitment to Mackie’s

We feel proud to have so many individuals work for us for a great number of years and thank each one of them for their hard work and commitment to Mackie’s. As a business that embraces change, those employees who stay with us for 20, 30 or even 40 years, witness big shifts in their roles, the business and even the wider world in their time with Mackie’s. We’d like to take the time to put the spotlight on a few individuals and how their role has been pivotal in Mackie’s continued success.

Bill Thain, Heather Bowie and Lesley Skene all share a combined service to Mackie’s of a whopping 93 years, and with each undertaking different roles within the business, have contributed in many different areas. We caught up with each of them to find out a little more about their time at Mackie’s.

Bill Thain, 46

When did you join Mackie’s?

August 1999 – I joined Mackie’s through a food business scheme for graduates. My first week was spent in Glasgow completing a course covering how a food business operates, from health and safety to managing stock. One task we had on the course was to devise a product, create a business and marketing plan and then promote that product in front of potential buyers. So, it was quite a fun experience and certainly set me up for a job at Mackie’s.

Just as I was graduating from Robert Gordon University, Mackie’s was advertising for a new role, Information Manager. The role was looking for an individual to create a system that would record and analyse sales – since applying I’ve never looked back.

What is your role at Mackie’s and what duties are involved?

I’m a National Account Manager, I look after some of Mackie’s major customers such as Tesco, and Waitrose. So, I’m mostly retail focussed at the moment.

What changes have you seen at Mackie’s in your time?

One aspect of the business which has grown significantly is exports. I remember Mackie’s first ever export – and it was a big one. We got the rights to supply ice cream at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea. It then evolved from there to other wholesale businesses within South Korea, expanded that supplier deal to Taiwan, China and so on. We now export ice cream to countries across the world, including Abu Dhabi, China, Dubai, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, UAE and the US.

As well as the breadth of the export sales, the size of the company has grown significantly, when I began it was solely ice cream; whereas now we have extended out to new products such as chocolate, and have been through the journey of Mackie’s joint crisps venture with the Taylor family. Technology changes have seen me embrace online working a lot more, with many new systems put in place over the years.

What makes Mackie’s a great place to work?

There are a number of things which makes Mackie’s a great place to work. I love the location, its being on a farm in the countryside is a real positive for me. The drive in the morning is great – especially in the springtime, it’s just a really uplifting start to my day.

I also think we are really lucky with the personnel at Mackie’s and the people within the company. It really is like a family – even though it’s a family business – it really feels like everyone is part of the family.

Have you experienced any milestones, career or personally, during your time?

My first venture into sales was around 2008 and I remember securing my first national listings with one of the country’s biggest wholesalers. Another highlight and milestone has to be landing a deal with Marks & Spencer’s in 2019. Marks & Spencer hadn’t really stocked branded products before then and finally securing the listing is something I am very proud of.

What has been your favourite product to date?

It has to be Honeycomb. I love the sweet taste of the product, it’s just my go-to.

When did you first hear of and taste Mackie’s?

Probably around the mid-90’s. I was certainly eating Mackie’s before I joined. In Aberdeenshire, Mackie’s have always been well known and the product is renowned in the farming community.

Heather Bowie, 51

When did you join Mackie’s?

April 1993 – so this year I’m celebrating my 30th year of service in agriculture to Mackie’s!

What is your role at Mackie’s and what duties are involved?

I work in the byre as a Young Stock Person, feeding and looking after the calves from new-born to two years old. It’s always busy in the byre. We currently welcome around 30 new calves each month, which go on to become the next generation of milking cows, producing the fresh milk for our ice cream. There are many other duties to help with in the herd as well, so I’m certainly kept busy. Before working with the calves, I spent five years working in the piggery, which no longer exists.

What is the most rewarding part of your role at Mackie’s?

The most rewarding part is seeing the calves grow and do well.

When did you first hear of and taste Mackie’s?

I remember my sister having a big tub of Traditional ice cream and we made a lemonade float with it. It was so creamy and fizzy and it was ‘right fine’.

What changes have you seen at Mackie’s in your time?

The biggest changes would be the move from parlour milking to robotic voluntary milking, and seeing the calves being machine fed instead of individual fed. These changes led to a much higher milk yield which allows us to make even more ice cream.

What has been your favourite product to date?

Honeycomb & Traditional – the classics!

Have there been any specific projects that you have been involved in?

I was involved in a trial with Smartbell tags that monitors the health of the calves at birth and picks up any health issues before the calves get unwell. It was really successful and led to us introducing this into the herd full time.

Lesley Skene

When did you join Mackie’s?

1984 – that makes it nearly 40 years.

What is your role at Mackie’s and what duties are involved?

I’m currently the Farms and Personnel Administrator, looking after all the farms paperwork, personnel records and I do the payroll. I ensure everyone is paid each month so I’m the person everybody looks forward to hearing from every four weeks!

What other roles have you had during your time at Mackie’s?

When I first arrived at Mackie’s my role was as receptionist, and then I moved onto payroll. I had been working in Aberdeen and was looking for a change in job when I saw a job at Mackie’s come up in the papers.  At the time I joined Mackie’s it was a milk retail and delivery business, and we hadn’t yet branched into ice cream. I then had my children and was lucky enough to be able to work around this to help manage childcare. I would work in the evenings inputting the ‘Milkies’ books and milk deliveries for supermarkets into the computer for invoicing.

I was involved in quite a lot of the farming side at one point too and had an office in the byre for a couple years – at any point it was a case of putting on my boiler suit and helping the team with the cows when needed. I would also help out with feeding the calves every second weekend to give Heather her weekends off. I’ve even helped with packing ice cream in the ice cream diary during busier periods. In 2017, I went into the ice cream dairy office as administrator which consisted of ordering machine parts for engineers and processing invoices. All the paperwork that was involved in chocolate and ice cream was uploaded to the system too.

What is your favourite thing about working at Mackie’s?

My role is so varied and I’m never just sat at my desk from 9-5 – I’m up and about around the Byre and ice cream dairy. I really enjoy my role and the people that I work alongside.

What changes have you seen at Mackie’s in your time?

There have been a lot of changes! When I first started here, Mackie’s were a milk retail and delivery business. We had the bottling plant and delivery lorries here at Westertown and there were three other dairy farms across Aberdeenshire we had for supplying milk. We also had two piggeries and an egg grader, with the milkmen also delivering eggs on their rounds. In 1986 we moved into the world of ice cream and gradually ceased milk deliveries – now all our milk goes into the ice cream.

What has been your favourite product to date?

A few years ago we had a limited-edition Lemon Meringue ice cream and it was lovely. It was a summer special for the year only but thankfully I can still get some at our parlour in Aberdeen!

Are there any other fun facts about your time at Mackie’s?

We used to have a social club! What is now our New Product Development kitchen was a big hall where we had dances and parties. There was a snooker table and dart board so we had winter darts, snooker and pool competitions where all family members could join. There were certainly some wild parties held there and it was great fun.