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Breadcraft’s innovation praised

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cutting the ribbon to launch new equipment at Breadcraft on Thursday. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI PHOTOGRAPHY

PAM GRAHAM
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There were lots of laughs and nice touches when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened Breadcraft’s new tortilla manufacturing plant with a pair of golden shears on Thursday.

She cut the ribbon after earlier observing that during last year’s election campaign, the number of toasted sandwiches she was eating reached a peak, and a wrap was a much more sophisticated alternative meal.

Breadcraft chief executive Phil Holden also referred to the 2017 general election, saying that his two daughters were wondering what the fuss was about on election day. After a serious conversation about democracy, they said, “Mum and Dad, don’t vote for Donald Trump, vote for Jacinda, she’s cool”.

John Cockburn, a third generation of his family at the firm, also gave a speech with many lovely touches, while noting Ardern was the third prime minister to visit the company and “Labour is trailing two-to-one at this point”.

The opening was attended by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson, who on behalf of the people of Masterton District made a $150 donation to KidsCan in the name of the prime minister’s daughter, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.

Carterton Mayor John Booth, South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott and Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty were all there, along with former and current staff in a room full of more than a hundred people.

Holden said being in business for 75 years came down to “love of the region, the love of the people, the love of the business”.

“In other simple words, they care, and they have put their heart and soul into this place.”

He said the day was about past generations, the current generation and the future. “It’s about family.”

He had a swipe at the issue of low business confidence with a Labour-led government in power.

“I can tell you this prime minister, there is no shortage of confidence in this business, in this room and in this region,” Holden said.

Ardern said she had a “snoop” around the company’s website and was impressed by its record in innovation and its connections with the community.

“The future of our economy isn’t and shouldn’t be based on migration and selling houses to each other. Because actually that is not all we want to be known for.

“Our economy is going to be built on the back of innovation. I wanted to say thank you for being a company New Zealand can be proud of.”

Cockburn said Breadcraft wanted to maintain its position in the community as well as make “some dough”.

There were seven staff who had worked there for more than 25 years, and the 120-strong staff had an average tenure of more than nine years.

He asked and answered the rhetorical question: How will the company reach 100 years of existence?

“I think we just have to continually do better today than we did yesterday.”

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