Discover

Wade Lyn CBE CD – Founder, Cleone Foods
Entrepreneurship

Wade Lyn CBE CD – Founder, Cleone Foods

Reading Time: 4 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURE FOR THE ‘MIDLANDS ENTREPRENEURS SHAPING THE FUTURE’ CAMPAIGN IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LLOYDS BANK

Wade Lyn’s journey from Jamaica to the United Kingdom at seven began a remarkable entrepreneurial career. After graduating in 1986 with a BA in Education specialising in Craft, Design & Technology, Wade embarked on his professional journey in the catering industry in Wolverhampton. In 1989, he took a bold step and established Cleone Foods Ltd in Birmingham, which has since flourished into the largest Jamaican patty manufacturer in the UK.

Island Delight Patties was born. These delectable Jamaican style patties are a flavorful blend of savoury fillings wrapped in golden, flaky pastry. This culinary delight has won many accolades and can be found in all the major supermarkets. The company employs over 70 local staff, turning over £5m annually. The company aims to double its turnover within five years and remain a household name. In 2012, they won the BITC Small Business Award and maintained this over the next few years. Cleone Foods holds a BRC AA award, an internationally recognised accreditation which means they maintain the highest standards in food manufacturing. Since 2009 the company have been operating a zero-waste-to-landfill and full recycling scheme, demonstrating our commitment to sustainability.

 

Wade’s contributions have been instrumental in introducing Caribbean cuisine to the mainstream, showcasing the rich flavours and vibrant culture to a wider audience. His generosity in sharing his expertise has led him to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and support the growth of emerging businesses. Recognising his immense dedication and impact, in November 2013, the Government of Jamaica appointed Wade as the Honorary Consul for Jamaica for the North—an important role given Birmingham’s status as home to the largest Jamaican community in the UK outside London.

 

Throughout his career, Wade has held influential positions in the West Midlands, including Director of Greets Green Partnership, Regional Director of Business in the Community, Chairman of the 12/8 Group, and Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Wade’s exceptional contributions have earned him numerous prestigious accolades, including being awarded a CBE in 2013 and the Commander in the Office of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 2020.

 

“Growing up in the Caribbean, patties were a staple for the family. We would eat patties as a snack at lunchtime or as a main meal in the evening. When I came to the UK as a teenager, I was surprised to find how difficult it was to buy a pattie, and a bag of chips wasn’t the same. Later, I decided to help bring the vibrant Caribbean tastes and flavours I grew up with to the British market.”

When Wade left university, he started making patties at a local company in Wolverhampton. Their patties were unwrapped, and he saw that they needed a brand identity and wanted to set up his own business with my USP of selling wrapped and branded patties to the general public.

 

Tell us about your childhood/ teenage years and any experiences shaping your entrepreneurial journey.

Growing up in the early 70s, my parents had a petrol station which exposed me to the business world at a young age. During my uni years, I started a DJ hire business; we did Discos in the dorms and house parties around the local area.

 

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced running your own business?

When first starting up, it’s trying to do every job possible and learning every aspect of running a business that’s the biggest challenge – finance, transport, production, transport & sales. You can’t just develop a good idea; you must learn about everything.

 

What have been the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

On my entrepreneurial journey, my company and I have been recognised and honoured many times; a highlight for me was receiving my CBE in 2013. One of my personal PR highlights has been being featured in the Lloyds Above The Line activity (billboards, tv, radio) for the climate change conference COP22. Seeing my business up on a billboard alongside Lloyds Bank was just brilliant.

 

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?

If I had to do it differently, I would look for a mentor who was already successful in taking me under their wing. There’s nothing like wisdom from someone who has already achieved your goal that has already achieved what you’re aiming for!

 

The Importance of Mentoring

My friend Jimmy that worked for Sandwell Council has always been good at bouncing advice off. I started the 12/8 group – over 20 years ago, they’re a peer-to-peer mentoring group we meet regularly to hash out business issues.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to scale their business beyond six figures, what would it be?

Talk to other people that scaled up, and find out what they did and how they did it!

Advice to Start-Ups

Talk to like-minded people; you will all go through business start-up growing pains – If you can’t find the help you need – start a group up yourself!

My Favourite Holiday Destination

Back Home – Jamaica

Black-Owned Business I Love

The Black Farmer

Favourite Thing to Do for Self-Care

Swimming

What are you currently reading/listening to or watching?

I like to keep up with current affairs – so anything news based! I enjoy ‘Race Across The World’ too – great challenges there.

 

Visit Island Delight’s Website

 

 

About Author

Justice