Robert Langmead

Published: 21st January 2008
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Robert Langmead

Robert Langmead was born in Chichester, West Sussex in 1968 into a family with a long history of farming and business success. The Langmead family can trace their farming roots back to 1590 in Cornwall, Southwest England. In 1888, Robert's great-great grandfather moved his family and business to West Sussex where he became a tenant farmer. From these humble beginnings, the Langmead family land base grew through subsequent generations. Now in the 21st century, the extended family own and farm over 20,000 acres of prime land in Hampshire and West Sussex.

Robert was brought up with business activity all around him and as a young man became more interested in commerce than farming. He was educated at Hurstpierpoint School in East Sussex and went on to gain a BSc in Business Studies at the University of Wales. After receiving his degree, Robert traveled extensively and has visited many countries around the world, including driving from Cape Town to the Congo in an old Land Rover.

Robert joined Unilever in 1991 as a sales and marketing graduate. Here he gained quick insight into global food manufacturing and marketing, which set him up for his future role as a food industry entrepreneur.

Robert's brother, David, had meanwhile established a very successful farming business in 1987, which focused on supplying whole-head lettuce to Tesco in the UK. By the early 90's Langmead Farms had grown to be not only Tesco's second largest salad supplier, but also the most respected in terms of quality and service. In 1994, Tesco therefore requested that David expand Langmead Farms to produce fresh cut salads, which at that time was an emerging marketing the UK. David immediately approached Robert suggesting that they set up a new business to service the fresh cut market. This business combined David's farming skills with Robert's food marketing experience and Natures Way Foods was born. Again, from humble beginnings with only three employees and a small production facility, the business exploded - generating over $1.8 million in sales during its first year of operation. Today, Natures Way Foods is a $160 million success story and services major retailers and food service customers with fresh cut salads, vegetables and fruits. Its customers include Tesco, McDonalds, Morrison, Costco, PrĂȘt a Manger and Pizza Express. The head office is based in Selsey, West Sussex and the Company employs over 500 brilliant people working out of two state-of-the-art factories.

Natures Way Foods was the fastest-growing food manufacturing company in the UK throughout the 1990's, more than doubling every year. When the business reached $31 million, Robert realized that he could no longer make all the decisions on his own! He therefore recruited a top-notch Board of Directors and began to teach himself how to run a business differently from the hands-on approach he had started with. This structural change allowed the business to have the infrastructure and systems in place to continue successful expansion.

Robert's business philosophy is built around 100% customer satisfaction. Everything Natures Way Foods does is dedicated to serving its customers better in the areas of quality, service, innovation, food safety and price. His employees are also totally committed to this vision and will move heaven and earth to deliver on this philosophy every day. Robert also believes in open transparent and fair management and expects his employees to follow his example and work as a team to always put the customer first. Core strengths and values of the business are integrity, honesty, and a respect for the environment.

These cultural values are the ones that Robert and his start-up team are importing to Wild Rocket Foods in Riverside, California. In the fall of 2007 they opened a 160,000 sq. ft. refrigerated manufacturing and distribution facility to service retail and food service customers in Southwest America. Wild Rocket Foods combines the best ideas and practices from England and combines them with the energy, talent and experience of the new California-based Wild Rocket Foods team for yet another chapter in a groundbreaking success story.

Robert's vision for Wild Rocket Foods is to "To be the most customer-focused and passionate produce company in the United States" using these fundamental values:

• Always Delighting our Customers

• A Brilliant Place to Work

• Better Every Day

• Proud of How We do Business

Wild Rocket Foods is setting the stage for the next generation of fresh produce and welcomes anyone who relates to this vision to contact us about sharing our future.

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