Our new Global Brand Manager, Pure Leaf and Away from Home, George Whiting tells us about why he has joined the JV and his meltingly good hobby. George spends the weekend travelling to festivals and selling gourmet cheese toasties from his food truck, Monty.
First of all George, welcome to the JV! What was it that attracted you about working here?
It was a few things; firstly entrepreneurship is front and foremost of what the JV is about. From Sir Thomas Lipton and his incredible business growth, to when I spoke to people in the JV when I was applying, this word comes up a lot and is aligned with the sort of company and people I wanted to work with.
I also really wanted to work in the refreshment category because it offers the chance to create incredible consumer experiences. When I see what Pure Leaf and Lipton are doing in Away From Home, experience is front and centre, and that motivates and excites me.
George, how did Warm and Toastie come about?
So, whilst living in Rotterdam I developed a huge love of different cheeses which spiralled into me aiming to make the perfect cheese toastie. I would describe “entrepreneurial pursuits” as one of my hobbies, before starting University I built and sold a mobile entertainment business, whilst at University I founded the MAD agency, the first student run marketing and advertising agency to help creative people gain practical work experience. Having a passion for projects I managed to convince my partner that, as we both loved food and often frequented food events and festivals, we should invest in a Food Truck business.
And how did you get from the idea to making it a reality?
Last summer we bought a very unloved, very broken 1978 Ice Cream Van, lovingly called him Monty and spent the rest of the year asking favours from family and friends to help convert him into a beautiful melting truck. This process took much longer than expected and we only opened our hatch at the end of May, however this delay, on reflection, was a blessing in disguise as during this time we spent weekends building the website and social media presence, building a network of event organisers and finding key partners that we could work with. Consequently we’ve had a busy first year of trading. We’ve been lucky enough to have been recognised for our SUPER tasty gourmet toasties and were shortlisted for street food of the year- one of our favourite toasties is the El Cheesio – a fajita inspired toastie with tequila, lime, chilli cheddar.
Wow, sounds grate! What have you learnt from your food truck that you will bring to the JV?
From visiting the events the truck takes me too, I see lots of examples of brands doing it right, and wrong, it’s a great environment to learn in.
Food trucks and street traders are on the top of trends and I get to see how important that is to their business. A good example I’ve seen recently, relevant to tea, is a trader selling Kombucha tea from a pump, and thereby standing out by presenting in an interesting way. I hope to bring seeing things in a new and exciting way.
What can bigger companies learn from your brielliant food truck peers?
A little obsession of mine is creating something that tastes great and people love, this means constantly talking to customers about our toasties. It’s also comparing innovations to the best on the market and not just on what we have done before.
Another thing I see is the ability of these founders to do things differently when issues pop up; again I think this is why the JV feels like a good fit for me. The things I love about Warm and Toastie, thinking out of the box, finding new ways to do things and moving quickly are the things I will find in the JV!