When Neil Doherty asked his son Joe to go to the local supermarket and buy an ice cream with the implicit instructions “but do not eat the cone”, neither could have known that it would one day lead them to becoming the leading manufacturers of traditional wafer products in Ireland.
“ I remember sitting around our kitchen table watching dad measure this ice cream cone and drawing diagrams. It was 1989 and I was 11” recounts Joe Doherty. What Joe didn’t know was that this was to be the initial research that would result in the establishment of Wafer Ltd in that same year. Initially the company manufactured only two lines –
The ‘Classic’ brand ice cream cone/cornet Large and Small. The product was received well and growth was quick. “At the beginning we manufactured using semi-automatic hand operated plants. It was a slow and labour intensive process. Looking back its hard to see how we could make a profit using this process at all” Neil laughs. In 1994 Wafer Ltd acquired the Fiesta Cone Company. At this point the manufacturing process became fully automated and the company’s product portfolio grew to five Cone/Cornet lines. During these years Wafer Ltd had also begun specialising in ice cream accessories for ice cream retailers and manufacturers.
Before they knew it they had become the largest supplier of ice cream related products in Ireland providing everything from plastic serving sundries to flavours and ingredients for the manufacture of ice cream to soft serve ice cream mixes. “It was a natural progression, no one else in the Irish marketplace catered specifically for ice cream retailers so we did” recalls Neil. Today Wafer Ltd is more specialised than ever. The company’s hand was strengthened when Joe joined in 2001, fresh from university and a year travelling the world. The father – son combination was a catalyst to the introduction of three new manufactured products in that same year.“We really are more versatile than ever. Now we manufacture products for the ice cream and confectionery industries and our product quality is better than ever” – Joe Doherty.
Wafer Ltd now supply all over the UK from John O Groats to Lands End and business continues to grow, particularly with their extensive waffle cone range. With one of the widest range of waffle cones in the UK, Wafer Ltd have become known for being innovative and progressive in helping retailers increase margin and increase sales. Wafer Ltd offer retailers something different from their competitors and give their customers something fun to talk about. These waffle cones are strong and flavoursome, dipped in a quality chocolate coating with fun and exciting inclusions such as Salted Popcorn, Oreo Crumbs, Blue Sherbet, Honeycomb pieces, to name a few. With the introduction of this range Wafer Ltd have become one of the largest distributors of Waffle cones in the UK and Ireland, a great feat for the family company.
Wafer Ltd see themselves as a proactive company. With Joe’s youthful drive and Neil’s experience they are constantly self challenging, setting new targets and developing new concepts. In 2009 Wafer Ltd opened ‘Joe Jackson’s’, a successful ice cream parlour making fresh ice cream daily. This allows the company to fully understand the industry from the retailer’s point of view, to see what works, what doesn’t and what is selling right now! With many years of making ice cream under the belt Wafer Ltd has become knowledgeable and experienced in recipe balancing and in 2014 Wafer Ltd became the UK agent for Elenka gelato ingredients, adding another important string to their bow.Do not let this lead you to conclude that they will stop here though. Wafer Ltd make no bones about future ambitions for growth but remain with their feet firmly on the ground.