A thirst for success - although best known for making Scotland's 'other national drink', there's a lot more to AG Barr than just IRN-BRU
When you are the first non-family boss to take the reins in a company's 174 year history it is a daunting prospect.
But add the fact that you are also responsible for the future of a Scottish icon - in this case the country's national fizzy soft drink IRN-BRU - and you are well and truly under pressure to perform.
Roger White has so far more than proved himself to be the right choice for the Cumbernauld-headquartered drinks company AG Barr with its market cap tripling tomore than £225m since he joined in 2002.
White took the tough but necessary decision to rationalise the business by closing down smaller, costly operations around Scotland and the rest of the UK including its original HQ in Glasgow's Gallowgate.
He has also overseen a series of acquisitions including Strathmore Mineral Water, Taut sports drinks, vitamin drinks specialist Vitsmart and tropical fruit drinks specialist Groupe Rubicon, which was acquired in August for £59.8m.
And last year AG Barr also signed a five-year partnership deal to sell American drink Rockstar energy.
Although he is still under the watchful eye of chairman and family member Robin Barr, White has been allowed to get on with the job of growing the business.
White is, in many ways, the stereotype of the modern professional British boss. he has the build of a rugby player with a quiet but authoritative confidence. One suspects he will not suffer fools gladly.
He also appears to be someone who will not betray his deep feelings easily to a stranger and especially not to a journalist.
However there is a chink in the armour when he talks about deciding to take on the managing director's job at AG Barr after years as a senior manager within the Rank hovis McDougall food group.
"Who wouldn't want to do this job? It is a great job," he says.
"If you are a consumer goods and brand building person there are not that many small to medium sized businesses that have got terrific scope for growth and development and have great world class brands.
"This is a company that I felt was like that and, having worked with a larger business and run divisions within that, it was very appealing to come and be the boss."
White comes from a large farming family in Dumfries and could well have made a living as a farmer though he says he was never attracted by the life.
"That always seemed quite a lot of hard work to me," he says.
His father worked with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Scotland so he lived in the town but would spend holidays and weekends on the family farms.
After studying geography, economics and business at the University of Edinburgh he went on to join Rank hovis MacDougall after being impressed by their management programme for graduates.
"I liked them because they seemed very focused on how they used their graduates rather than being a bit airy fairy about what you were going to be doing. They would give you a real job very quickly.
"In those days RhM was a classic large UK food manufacturer. The appeal was it wasn't the division of a bigger American or european company - it was a UK company and I liked the idea that I could go and eyeball the people who were running it and spend time with them without having to wait to be posted to Geneva or new York.
"It helped that I knew a bit about some parts of their business through my farming connections," he adds.
White spent the next few years working in many different locations as he learned about the business and grew his experience. Just by chance his first training spell was in Edinburgh at the Leith milling business.
He moved through the trading side of the business and did its international materials sourcing with a lot of work around risk management in commodities and foreign exchange.
White also worked in sales for two years before being given his first general manager's job at the age of 30 as managing director of pizza manufacturer Charnwood Foods.
It supplied all the pizzas for Pizza hut in Europe and White stayed there for 18 months before becoming head of a frozen foods business the group had acquired in London.
He oversaw the integration of the £60m business which had some 1000 employees over two years.
His success was recognised when he was appointed commercial director of RHM's bakery division - its biggest - based in Windsor.
He had been in the job for four years when he heard through the grapevine about the vacancy at AG Barr where the then MD was stepping down early through ill health.
"The location wasn't an issue for me. I was very happy where I was but by the same token it wasn't unappealing to move back to Scotland."
After White joined AGBarr he decided that changes were needed.
"I found a business that was doing pretty well and, from a strategic point of view, everything was in reasonable order but there were real opportunities to move up a gear.
"I started by having a good look at what was going on and trying to understand why we were where we were and what the heartbeat of the business was about," he explains.
"The first thing I did was improve the quality of the revenue by cutting some things out - I stopped some of the selling we were doing and tried to get people focused around value sales growth rather than volume.
"I tried to start the momentum behind becoming more value driven and getting us to think like brand builders rather than manufacturers.
"Volume is important to us because operational gearing is important and because the more we sell the better the business tends to be.
"But we are very focused on value because at the end of the month me and everybody else here are paid in pounds not litres.
"That doesn't mean we are not interested in sales volume. There is a subtle difference between being totally volume driven and focusing on value.
"Having improved the revenue we then focused on the cost side of things and that led to some consolidation in terms of the asset base.
"It was a very solid high quality business with lots of people with tons of experience. We were probably a little bit overweight on experience and understanding of our business and a little bit underweight on what was going on in the outside world."
Today AG Barr owns about 90 per cent of the brands it sells. It has 13 core brands including IRN-BRU, Tizer, and a lot of smaller regional and local brands. A small piece of business with Marks & Spencer represents the company's only own label activity. In addition to the new Rockstar brand it has had the franchise to distribute French drink Orangina in the UK since 1995.
Through the company's acquisition strategy it aims to build a portfolio of soft drinks to appeal to every taste.
"We are not an IRN-BRU only business," says White. "IRN-BRU is very, very important to us and carbonated soft drinks in general are very important to us. We still believe there is room to grow those in the marketplace but we want to add additional brands and ranges to our portfolio so that we have something for everyone.
White says innovation is one strand of its core business and it has developed entirely new products.
"Where we couldn't build on existing brands or start brands afresh we have acquired existing brands at we think, sensible value.
He says that when Barr acquires it does not just impose its own ideas.
"We will be learning some things from them and hopefully they will be learning from us," he says.
White says he thinks he is a fairly collaborative sort of person when it comes to managing.
"I have my views but the most important thing for me is that we have a strong team here.
"One of the benefits of being a long standing business with a family heritage going back over the years is that we get a huge amount of loyalty from the workforce. I have been here six years and I really am just a junior in the stakes of length of service. We are seeing lots of people doing 30 to 45 years of service."
Although many will see Barr as a family company it has been listed since 1965 and is very much a public company though White says it retains some positive attributes of an historically family-run business such as taking a long term view on things.
He works closely with Robin Barr in important areas of the business.
"But prettymuch from early on in my career here he let me get on with running the business," says White.
"From a strategy point of view we are a pretty focused soft drinks business and that strategy has stood us well for over 100 years and continues to allow us to grow and develop.
Perhaps surprisingly, overseas exports only account for two per cent of the group's turnover and that does not look likely to change soon.
By the end of the financial year AG Barr's business will be broadly split with some 49 per cent in Scotland, 49 per cent in the rest of the UK and the rest overseas.
Russia is the company's biggest overseas market though it also sells in Australia, Canada and Spain.
"Historically we have supplied IRN-BRU principally to territories where either there has been a tourist stylemarket or there has been local interest in the brand but maybe it has not been strategic," says White.
"The business in Russia is more strategic because it is totally managed by Pepsi Bottling Group over there and we are a core part of their business.
"Can the brand be developed overseas? I think what we proved in Russia is that, if managed properly, it can become an important part of a big soft drinks company's portfolio.
"If you walk down the street in Moscow and go into any of the kiosks you will see IRN-BRU. If you go into a supermarket you will see IRN-BRU. It is doing extremely well.
"We have market tested it in lots of countries and our biggest export market for many years has been England and Wales - we will continue to put a lot of effort into those territories because there is a still a lot more growth we can attain there.
Growth is clearly illustrated by the latest figures for IRN-BRU which show seven per cent volume growth south of the border year on year.
"Historically the market has grown fairly consistently. The soft drinks market is a good expandable consumption market.
"However we have had two really rotten summers and, whilst we have seen a little bit of market growth this year, it has not been terrific. The prior year was the same.
"We have consistently grown over those two years and we have outgrown the market so by definition we are taking a better share."
AG Barr are big spenders when it comes to marketing and their adverts have often grabbed headlines, most recently with its cheeky television advert based on Raymond Briggs's The Snowman.
Although White won't say exactly how much the company spends on advertising he says that since joining marketing spend has increased and its effectiveness improved.
"We havemoved money between below the line and above the line so we have been more effective in what we spend," he explains.
Two crucial new appointments White has made since taking the helm have been commercial director Jonathan Kemp and head of marketing Adrian Troy.
"It was, in both instances, where we felt we wanted to improve our capability and leadership in those areas," says White.
White says there have been quite a lot of personnel changes right across the organisation.
"I think it is natural development.
If we go back a while ago, there was lots of experience but it didn't have very much outside influence.
"We have now balanced that up. We have a lot of very good quality middle and senior managers who have worked their way through from lots of levels in the business but we have also brought a number of people in from outside.
"The quality of the team is what determines the quality of the result."
For White the highlight of the day is getting the sales figures. "I get a buzz every night when I get my sales figures in and see how we are doing.
Scotland is one of the few countries in the world where Coca Cola gets a run for its money from the loyalty to IRN-BRU.
"We don't worry too much about Coca Cola," says White.
With a recession looming White is planning to stick to the knitting.
"We fight hard for every sale anyway so we are used to it. We have very big, tough, good competitors - that keeps you on your mettle."
TIMELINE: History of AG Barr
1875 Current chairman Robin Barr's great grandfather, Robert Barr, adds a soft drinks business in Falkirk to his cork cutting operations. Soft drinks quickly grow to become the only activity.
1887 His son, Robert Fulton Barr, leaves the Falkirk business where heworked with his father and younger brother Andrew Greig Barr to start his own soft drinks business in Great Eastern Road, Glasgow (later to be renamed The Gallowgate).
1892 Robert F Barr moves to Ireland, leaving brother, Andrew, as sole proprietor.
1901 Both Barr soft drinks businesses - Robert Barr Falkirk and AG Barr&Co, Glasgow-jointly launch their own original recipe IRON BREW soft drink.
1903 Tragically, Andrew G Barr dies suddenly of glanders virus aged just 31.
1904 Andrew's younger brother, William Snodgrass Barr, becomes managing director of AG Barr & Co in Glasgow and becomes sole proprietor of Barr's Falkirk business upon the death of his father Robert Barr.
1904 Instigated by Andrew GBarr before his untimely death, the limited company AG Barr & Co Ltd is formed.
1931 Colonel Robert Barr, the son of Robert F Barr, becomes chairman of AG Barr&Co Ltd.
1947 Robert Barr, father of Robin Barr, and son of William Snodgrass Barr, takes over as chairman on his return from war service.
1947 The name IRON BREW is changed to IRN-BRU.
1954 Messrs Hollows of Bradford acquired.
1959 Single family business createdwhen AG Barr&Co Ltd takes over the original Robert Barr Falkirk business.
1960 Robin Barr joins the business.
1963 R Douglas Ltd, Kirkcaldy, acquired 1965: AG Barr floats on the stock exchange. Frucose of Sunderland acquired.
1972 Tizer acquired.
1978 Robin Barr becomes chairman.
1983 Globe Soft Drinks of Edinburgh acquired.
1988 Mandora St Clements of Mansfield acquired.
1996 New Cumbernauld site opens. Production capacity triples. AGBarr acquires 40 per cent of Findlays Spring Natural MineralWater.
2001 IRN-BRU celebrates 100th anniversary and is confirmed as biggest selling grocery brand in Scotland. Remaining 60 per cent of Findlays acquired.
2002 Roger White joins as managing director.
2004 Roger White becomes first ever non family chief executivewhile Robin Barr becomes chairman.
2006 Strathmore Mineral Water of Forfar acquired. IRN-BRU 32 launches.
2007 IRN-BRU announces £3m three year sponsorship deal with the Scottish Football League.
2008 Taut sports drinks acquired in January. Vitaminsmart and Vitsmart brands acquired. Groupe Rubicon acquired in August.