If you have time, you should visit the Unifiller website (www.unifiller.com) and watch the video of cakes being iced and pies being filled and cookies being portioned—all by machine. It’s both mouth-watering and highly impressive. To clarify, Unifiller isn’t a baking company; rather, they are the designers and manufacturers of the machinery that makes finishing baked goods a lot easier. Some of their technology includes bakery depositors, food service fillers, pumps and automated production lines.
Located in Delta, in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Unifiller has been in business for some 21 years. They began designing and selling machines to the bakery industry in Canada and now, Unifiller ships worldwide.
The company is owned by three extremely creative entrepreneurs; Benno Bucher, Kuno Kurschner, and Stewart Macpherson — they are committed to developing new technologies through unique and innovative machine designs.
Bucher, Vice President, has been in the fresh food packaging business for over 30 years and is responsible for R&D. Macpherson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, has a bakery background in sales, development and marketing. Kurschner, President, is a designer and mechanical engineer; he oversees product development and company strategy.
Unifiller is a company that believes in working and playing hard every day. And it’s not a platitude either… how else do you explain the play room?
“This is a fabulous place,” laughs Bucher. “We play a lot—twice a day, actually. We have a volleyball court outside, an exercise room and a play room with a ping pong and pool table. It’s not just a company picnic every once in a while, we celebrate! We even have our own cafeteria and chef…how cool is that!”
There’s more. Unifiller has employees from 18 different countries and they make a point to celebrate all the national holidays. In December, the company has three Christmas parties…jealous yet? To be fair, Unifiller is in the celebration business. And as Bucher says, “it’s a reflection of the owners. There’s no real reason for it; we just like to have a good time. Our environment is something you would see at a software company—somewhere like Google. Those people are on to something.”
Don’t get Unifiller wrong, they are still serious about their business. Their international success can speak for that. “We are very productive during the day,” says Bucher. “We’re a regular metal-bashing company. We do engineering, machining, welding and electronics. Unifiller is like any other factory, but we’ve taken a page out of the software people’s book by treating employees like humans.”
“People in our industry have to recognize is that it comes down to culture,” Bucher continues. “Our people want to work here. We have a big customer base that is like a fan club. That fan club grows from our employees’ loyalty to them. They are good to the customers as a reflection of how loyal we are to them. We try to makes things as win-win as possible—we only want solutions that benefit all parties. That goes for everyone; otherwise, we walk away. People feel good here. It’s a place where you want to do business.”
Research and Development
As industry leaders in technology, Unifiller places a lot of emphasis on innovation to help customers and to stay on top.
“Research and development is huge for us,” says Bucher. “It represents the future for us. In our niche, we’re the leading company in design and technology. We are also the fastest to market our product. When something new needs to be done, we can turn it around very quickly. Unifiller has a full R&D staffing department that does nothing but invent things. Of course, we’ve also invented things that nobody wants. But that’s why it’s called R&D!”
Bucher couldn’t say what Unifiller is working on now, but he’s excited about what’s to come. He did, however, talk about a new trend they’re developing further into their product line. “Most of our machinery now is pneumatically driven and we’ve developed a way of controlling them by computers. You can control their functions and speeds by using programmable logic controllers (PLC). You can also store the recipes in each computer to make it easy to switch food products. We are driving the technology in that direction and have also made a lot of advances in robotics.”
Unifiller’s most popular machine is the Universal Depositor — a machine that can be used in a wide range of industries and comes in at a low price point. “It’s for portioning anything from soups and stews to batters and delicate mousse fillings.” Bucher describes. “It’s basically a turn-key depositing solution — uncrate it and begin depositing almost immediately. ”
A ways to go
Unifiller is open to growth in the future, as long as it’s organic. “We don’t drive growth here,” says Bucher. “Our company grows as our popularity grows. As long as we keep people happy, we’ll do well, which is how it has always been. Of course, people like to be a part of a growing place and we certainly don’t want to shrink.”
As far as goals go, Unifiller has a lot more in store. “We sell worldwide,” laughs Bucher, “so we have a long way to go to fill our market. We are very competitive in North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and South America. We’re well known, but we’re a long way from owning it all.”
Expertise: Unifiller has a team of in-house specialists, with Bakery production experience in European and North American bakeries.
Simplicity: Our machines have the least number of parts to clean, maintain or to lose. This means virtually anyone can do it.
Versatility: Unifiller offers the largest number of standard attachments and depositing heads in the industry (over 100 standard proven designs are in use throughout the world).
Modular: All Unifiller machines are of modular design allowing our customers to grow into larger automated systems tomorrow.
Custom: Our Technical Sales Consultants listen to our customers needs and our Design Engineers provide customized solutions.
Gentle On The Product: Our equipment is gentle on your products — what goes into the hopper is what comes out.
Large Particle: Unifiller machines can handle large food particles or chunks up to 2.5 cm (1") and even up to 5 cm (2") on some of our other designs.
Test Bakery: We test your product in our in-house test bakery to meet and exceed the results you are looking for.
Ingredient Control: Unifiller machines are extremely accurate through the unique machine design resulting in precise portion control.
Quick Payback: Typically our recommended systems can pay back within six months. Let us work on an ROI for you.