From winning a national contest, to developing a new brand, how one British Columbia bakery is doing it all.
|All in the family: the key players of the Bread ’N’ Buns Factory include, from left to right: Yvonne Park (wife to Jae); Irmgard Schelesny, the store’s longtime manager; Doo Yun and Linda Park (holding grandkids) and Jae Park.|
What Jae Park did with the $11,000 he won at this year’s California Walnut Inspiration Contest at the CRFA Show in March, pretty much summarizes what you need to know about the man and the company he operates with his family.
Representing his family firm, Bread ’N’ Buns Factory of Coquitlam, B.C., Jae won both the Best in Show (with a prize of $10,000) and the Breads category (with a prize of $1000) for his California Walnut Raisin Rye Bread. (See details of the contest by going to www.bakersjournal.com and clicking on Web Features).
“We had a big company dinner at a nice restaurant with all of our employees,” Jae says. “We also had a bowling and pizza night where every participant received $50 and the first prize winner received $300, second $200 and third $100. We also bought some new uniforms. So, most of the winnings went back into our company through our employees.”
Hard work and mutual respect permeate everything at this bakery business, established by Jae’s father, Doo Yun Park more than 20 years ago. When Jae accepted his prize in Toronto he said, “I’m proud to represent my family and accept this honour on their behalf. I learned everything I know about baking bread from my father and am excited to be recognized for our winning product.”
Bread ’N’ Buns operates a 4,000-square-foot retail bakery and deli (of which 2,200 square feet are retail and the rest is bakery and support area) in a strip mall in a residential area of Coquitlam, about 45 minutes’ drive from Vancouver. The commissary where the par-baking takes place is in an industrial area close to the store. Currently, about 40 per cent of the revenue comes from wholesale – distribution by Snowcap to grocery stores and hotels – but the main business is retail.
The key players leading the 30-person staff team are Doo Yun Park and Jae Park, who run the “back” of the business, and Linda Park (Jae’s mother), Yvonne Park (Jae’s wife) and longtime store manager Irmgard Schelesny, who run the “front.”
“We are really a dream team because everyone is doing what they love to do,” says Doo Yun Park with obvious pride and pleasure.
Jae became a full-time employee in 2002, after graduating from Simon Fraser University with a business degree. He explains the division of responsibility between father and son.
“My father is a seasoned businessman but he gives me as much responsibility as I can handle. He lets me experience things on my own even if it means that it’ll take longer or I’ll make mistakes.”
Variety brings customers
“We are known for our bread and buns,” says Irmgard. “We make our bread without sugar or preservatives. It is real bread that does get stale after a few days. Our customers love the quality and taste.”
The company makes about 30 varieties of bread and 18 kinds of buns, with the light rye bread being the best-seller. The cake selection is currently expanding. Children’s birthday cakes are really successful, says Irmgard, showing off the fresh cakes decorated with SpongeBob SquarePants, Nemo, Winnie the Pooh and various princesses.
The store also has a large deli section with cold cuts, cheeses and other deli items. In addition, there is a selection of European groceries – pickles, dry breads, crackers, jams and so on – and even some European hand-painted serving plates, bowls and pitchers, all of which Irmgard selects personally.
For the customers, this variety has made Bread ’N’ Buns a “community centre,” a place where you go for your daily bread, your lunch sandwiches and picnic baskets, where you get your hostess gifts and all of your party goods, from deli trays to specialty cakes. It is a distinctly European concept, a place where everyone knows and meets everyone, and where life’s joys and sorrows are shared.
“We now serve some third-generation customers,” says Irmgard.
So, when Jae started the process of rebranding the company, creating a new name, Inno, and a new logo, the regulars got nervous. The ever-responsive team came up with a compromise – for now, the front of the awning says Inno, but the sides still say Bread ’N’ Buns.
The Parks are developing the Inno concept in preparation for opening additional stores. The Inno concept will be close to the existing store concept, and the plan is to open the first new store later this year.
When Jae entered the business full time, many things started to move ahead at an accelerated pace. One of those was the move to a separate commissary and to the use of frozen dough. “There was a lot of stigma in the past about that, but centralizing the mixing and manufacturing in one location actually improves our quality control compared to making everything fresh every day at the back of the store,” says Jae. “We can control the environment at the factory and we can train specialized staff. We have given them the specialized tools they need at the factory and at the store level, we still do retarding proofing which increases flavour and texture and we have stack ovens for the artisan-style breads and two rack ovens with steam, so we have not lowered the quality. In fact, we now feel more comfortable about opening another store because we have control over quality.”
Ralf Tschenscher, Western division manager for Lesaffre Yeast Corporation, knows the Park family and their business well.
“To keep their quality consistent, Mr. Park and Jae knew they needed to have loyal and committed employees,” he says. “They streamlined their production by moving into a commissary. This move has allowed the bakers to start production at 7 a.m., which is unheard of in the bakery business. Their employees are very happy about this, and they are still able to provide fresh baked bread and buns by 9 a.m. when the store opens.”
Jae Park explains further: “My father and I believe in making work easy for everyone. The bakery business is a difficult place to work in, as are many food industry businesses. We feel that in our system everyone is doing a job in which they can specialize. Everyone is doing a job that they are good at to the maximum potential of their skill.”
With streamlined production, a growing product line, a new store in the works and a product that’s singled out as one of the best in the country, it would appear that Inno is a winning concept in the making.
See this year’s annual recipe collection for Jae’s winning California Walnut Raisin Rye Bread formula. For more information on the California Walnut Inspiration Contest, go to www.bakersjournal.com and click on Web Features.
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