Achieving Heather Brae’s business growth potential

Heather Brae Managing Director Bassam Wakim with his dedicated staff. Photo courtesy of Whittlesea Business.

Heather Brae Shortbreads is a family business that started operations in 1941. From its humble beginnings supplying shortbreads to milk bars, Heather Brae has now grown into a successful medium size business with state of the art facilities in Melbourne, Victoria. 

Heather Brae products 


Heather Brae’s core is its home-style range of shortbreads, cakes, tarts and cookies. Using only the highest quality ingredients with traditional family recipes, Heather Brae produces treats that are decadent, often hand-dipped in rich chocolate or healthy yogurt or filled with extravagant inclusions such as fresh nuts or chewy moist fruits. 

Known for their premium gourmet range, Heather Brae products are delivered to airline catering, quality cafes and large coffee chains. The company also supplies a range of “private label” bakery products to supermarket chains, such as Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, IGA, and Foodworks.  In addition, Heather Brae specializes in contract manufacture to customers’ specific requirements. 


Heather Brae’s growth has been constant over the years. During peak periods, they would bring in casual staff to run a second shift. Soon they have outgrown their premises and also needed to look into automation to realize their growth potential. A transition to an industrial setup requires significant investment in plant and equipment and involves careful planning and research. 

Managing Director Bass Wakim is committed to bringing about Heather Brae’s business plan, and put in place all the steps to achieve that goal. In 2008, the business moved into larger premises equipped with new purpose fit-out facilities, with new equipment to include more products into its range, increase output, and continue to deliver consistently high quality bakery products. 


The heart of a modern bakery plant is the oven. Where previously the business used reel ovens and rack ovens, Heather Brae realized that they have to upgrade to achieve an industrial production output. 

Bass Wakim approached RVO Enterprises for technical advice. After a thorough review of the product range, bake time and temperature of the products, and production levels required, RVO’s solution is to provide Heather Brae a Polin Tunnel Oven. 

Polin Tunnel Oven 

Polin Cyclothermic Tunnel Oven

Polin Tunnel Ovens are custom-built to specifications and are designed for large-scale bread, pastry and biscuit production. It uses a cyclothermic system where forced air-circulation results in an intense but uniform baking process, thus reducing baking time. 

The baking process can be fully automated from start to end, including loading and unloading the trays. While being fully automated, it still allows for an excellent control and regulation of the baking process. For example, a baking diagram setting can be set to vary the temperature along the different sections of the oven. This gives flexibility not attainable in any other type of oven. 

A cyclothermic tunnel oven system has other advantages which are: energy-saving by using lower temperatures, less manual handling of trays because the loading/unloading process can be automated, and results in better food quality, with less loss of food weight as products are cooked in less time and lower temperature. 


Mixed Jam Tarts

With the Polin Tunnel Oven in place, Heather Brae’s products come out evenly baked, maintaining qualities (colour, texture, taste) that meet the company’s strict quality standards. 

Managing Director Bass Wakim says, “Using the Polin Tunnel Oven eliminates double handling of trays (which can be very heavy), requires less personnel to operate and the products are definitely better, while achieving an industrial production output.“ 

A lasting partnership 

Bass Wakim’s vision is to continuously grow the business, not only to their existing customer base but also to other areas, such as café, food service and catering. He attributes Heather Brae’s success to its commitment to exceed customers’ expectations in both quality products and service. He also cites the dedication of his core staff, more than half of which have been with the business for 10 years or longer. They would get together informally during a special monthly lunch Bass hosts for staff as a ‘thank you for their hard work’. Finding the right people and suppliers that share his vision leads to a lasting working partnership. 

Bass has the following to say about RVO: 

“We have had a long association with RVO. Over the years, we purchased bakery equipment from them. The Polin Tunnel Oven, is by far our most major purchase from RVO. 

It is a large investment so before we made the decision to go for the Polin Oven, I did my own research, asking some of RVO’s customers for comments. And they all came back with very good recommendation. 

That’s why I feel comfortable working with RVO and Wilhelm (Harnacke, RVO Managing Director); I think we share the same sort of culture and work ethic: honesty, excellent service and fair price. 

I am very happy to work with RVO. 

RVO have a very good reputation in the industry, and has always been very good with back-up support and service.”

Heather Brae, meaning “flower on the hill” is a family business that has been baking Australia’s favourite shortbreads since 1941.

Heather Brae Shortbreads provide exceptional quality home-style treats by only using high quality ingredients with traditional family recipes.

Phone: +61 3 9460 4111

Fax: +61 3 9462 1443



Address: 53 Lipton Drive


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