Bakers Journal

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Strength in Numbers: A new bakery association sets up shop north of the border


June 28, 2008
By Jane Ayer

There’s a new kid in town – or, to
be more precise, a new association. Headed up here in Canada by Brian
Hinton of Calgary’s Lakeview Bakery, Resourceful Purchasers in Action
Canada (RPIA Canada) is a spinoff of the original RPIA in the U.S.

There’s a new kid in town – or, to be more precise, a new association. Headed up here in Canada by Brian Hinton of Calgary’s Lakeview Bakery, Resourceful Purchasers in Action Canada (RPIA Canada) is a spinoff of the original RPIA in the U.S.

“It’s a unity buying program that has had six years of success in the U.S.,” explains Hinton.

rpiaRPIA USA has 87 members, made up of both retail and wholesale bakeries, and suppliers. Hinton first stumbled on the association while on a recent trip across the border and was instantly intrigued by the promised benefits of being part of the group. Those benefits range from special pricing on everything from freight to ingredients, discounted equipment and rebates. Many of the members also end up doing business with each other, so there’s the added benefit of networking and all of the opportunities that offers.

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“Our members want to buy the best way they can – as a group,” says Hinton.

And in times like these, with the soaring cost of doing business, group buying power can’t be underestimated. In the short time that he’s been a member (almost two years now), Hinton says his membership fee has more than paid for itself.

“We’re remodelling the store, so I contacted Artica, who is a preferred supplier, and not only did I pay below cost for showcases, they also offer the total package to RPIA members, including help with designing the scheme and all of the millwright requirements,” says Hinton. “I almost immediately saved my first-year membership fees.”

Just what are those membership fees? Because it’s looking to grow membership and because it’s convinced once they’re familiar with the benefits of being part of the organization, members will be in for the long haul, RPIA Canada is offering to freeze memberships fees for five years for charter members. Normally, bakery members pay a one-time initiation fee of $500, plus annual membership fees of $400. Bakery suppliers pay a membership fee of $900 annually, which includes advertisement on the website and all handouts and special invitations to attend social events at regional meetings. The one requirement for bakeries is sales over the $1 million mark.

“We’re looking for people who are innovators,” explains Hinton. “They’re in control of their own destiny. Eighty per cent of members have increased their business in three years.”

Because much of the communication is conducted online or via BlackBerrys, members must also be technologically savvy.

Hinton says the group isn’t looking to compete with the Baking Association – RPIA Canada has a completely different mandate and its focus really is on pricing, “..something the BAC can’t involved itself in, for obvious reasons,” says Hinton.

Interested in finding out more? RPIA Canada will be hosting regional information sessions in Vancouver and Toronto in September (Sept. 7 for Vancouver, and Sept. 14 for Toronto), along with a joint RPIA Canada/USA AGM in Dallas, Texas in January. Go to www.rpia-canada.org or send an e-mail to info@rpia-canada.org .