A family business: Tom & George Garland - Unilever

UnileverName: Tom & George Garland
Job role: Mix Manager and Engineer Apprentice
Company: Unilever


I started working at Unilever in 1975 when I became an Engineering Apprentice at our Gloucester ice cream factory at the age of 16. Aside from a short secondment, I've been based at Gloucester ever since, which is almost 40 years.

Having worked my way up, today I am the site's Mix Manager which means I'm responsible for the Mix Department where we process ingredients to supply our lines with raw mix to make 160m litres of ice cream every year. At the Wall's factory, among others we manufacture Magnum, Carte D'Or, Twister, Solero, Feast and Viennetta.

I always knew that I wanted to be an engineer and the food and drink industry gave me opportunity to learn lots of skills and to work with my hands. As an engineer, it's the hands-on experiences that are the most enjoyable.

Over the years I've seen manufacturing evolve in a way that is really exciting for an engineer. Previously labour intensive lines had been automated, producing greater volumes with fewer hands on deck. Being involved in these projects has been very rewarding.

There have been many proud moments but perhaps the proudest was being part of the team which automated the Viennetta line more around 10 years ago. We transformed the line from 120 pieces per minute with 23 operators, to 200 pieces/minute with six operators – a real engineering achievement.

Of course another proud moment for me personally was when Tom secured his apprenticeship with Unilever. As his father, I would support him in any career path but to see him join a company which I know and for which I've worked for almost 40 years made me very proud.


As a child, I was lucky enough to go to the Wall's factory on family open days, to see where my father worked. I knew straight away I wanted to be an engineer and having seen what it's like to work at an ice cream factory - and knowing that you can enjoy what you create - I knew it would be the perfect place to start my career.

As part of my Apprenticeship, I study full time at college but during half terms and holidays have the opportunity to return to the factory to apply my knowledge and get involved in day-to-day maintenance of the lines.

I am fortunate enough to train in both mechanical and electrical engineering, I already know that my preference is for the mechanical side of things because it's so hands on and rewarding. You can quickly see the fruits of your labour.

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