A dad has gone from being £200,000 in debt as he built up a flavouring company and is now enjoying the taste of success as it turns over £6,000,000 a year.
Jake Lavella, from Bebington, started his company JPL Flavour Technologies in Neston, in 2014 and continued to have faith in it despite the debt building up as he struggled to get things "signed off" early on, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The 28-year-old said he 'fell into' the profession when his parents made him get a job when he was 16.
He applied to become a junior flavourist at Wirral-based Hagelin, a firm that was eventually bought out and closed in 2013, but it was this job that would help shape his future career, as 12 years later he decided to rent the former Hagelin site and "make a go" of his own company.
It took two years to set everything up but in 2016, the company finally moved into the site.
Image:JPL Flavour Technologies)
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Jake said: "It was a lot of debt - I was £200,000 in debt before I made a sale because it can take a long time for something to get signed off."
But despite his debt-ridden first year, the firm managed to turnover £250,000 before that increased to a staggering £1.8million in 2017.
The firm's rapid growth continued, and in 2019 it relocated to its current home in a 30,000 sq ft facility at Clayhill Industrial Estate in Neston.
This year, the company is on target to reach revenues of £6.5million, up from £4.9million in 2020, and currently employs 27 staff members.
Jake now works with some of the biggest brands in the UK, including biscuit makers and sports nutrition firms.
He said: "I've just got to the point where it was so mind-blowing I've become numb to it because it was just more, more, more and more.
"I just have this thing about wanting to beat the bigger companies. A lot of the time I don't get 100% on board with how they work because it's very corporate and 'oh we'll have a meeting, about a meeting, about a meeting.
"We just want to get the work done and I think that's why we've become so popular because we just get it done. It's just about getting stuck in, I've got a candle that says 'smells like this meeting could've been in an email'."
When he first started the job as a teen, Jake said he never had any intention of making it a career.
He said: "I completely fell into it. I went for a job when my mum and dad told me to stop being lazy when I'm not in school.
"I went there and I was like 'this is amazing, I never knew this existed'. Most people don't know this job exists and I just became completely fascinated by it."
Describing what a flavourist does, he said: "Essentially you take something like an apple from nature, smash it up and then you analyse it.
"There's a lot of chemical compounds that naturally exist in everything, including the food that we eat and our job is to essentially look at things at the molecular level.
"If you wanted to do a flavour that was half a red apple and half a green apple that would be difficult to do naturally.
"But you'd be able to do it by using the individual molecules. It takes a while to get your head around it but when you do it becomes easier."
Now Jake has plans to expand his businesses across the world and is doing so with the backing from GC Business Growth Hub and Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub.
Phil Anders, the Hub’s manufacturing advisor for Liverpool City Region, Warrington and Cheshire, said: "I have known Jake for several years and he is one of the most innovative and creative entrepreneurs we are working with.
"He has built a new state-of-the-art facility that has taken the business from a start-up to one that has global plans, and I am confident Jake and his team will realise their ambitions.
"This is a local business employing local people and I’m happy that we were able to support them through the Manufacturing Growth Fund."
As well as constructing a new 18,000 sq ft warehouse, employing five more people, Jake now has his sights set on opening a facility across the Atlantic in Reno, Nevada.
He said: "I just try and not think of the bigger picture otherwise it can get a bit overwhelming so it's just focusing on Nevada and then when that's done we'll find somewhere in Europe. Then we'll find somewhere in India.
"We're just just going to start pushing to become global quickly because everything is about momentum."
But despite his rapid success and receiving "multiple offers" from firms looking to buy JPL Flavours, Jake said he would never sell and that the only other person who will run the company will be his daughter Orla, who was born in March.
He said: "After my daughter was born I made a bit of a statement on LinkedIn, and made sure everyone saw it, saying 'we will never, ever be for sale'.
"The only person who will run this company apart from me is my daughter, if she wants to. There's a lot of legacy things I'm putting in place at the minute. It will stay within the family hopefully for as long as possible."