Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
The Passion Starts Here…


November 8, 2007
By Barbara Lauer

Topics

Baking, baked goods and the industries around them have been integral to me since I was born

barbara-lauerBaking, baked goods and the industries around them have been integral to me since I was born.  Raised on a grain and dairy farm, with both a mother and grandmother who baked almost daily, I grew up in the kitchen.  The warm, inviting smells of a bakery—whether commercial or retail—still hark back to the days when everyone would gather around our worn Formica table for whatever was fresh from the oven — cookies, cake, pie or rolls.

During my years as a journalist and communicator, I’ve worked in agriculture and consumer packaged goods — a background that gives me an understanding of this industry from field to fingertip (I lick icing).  Whether you choose to be an owner-operator, or manage a larger operation that supplies a chain of retail outlets, many issues remain the same:  HAACP, traceability, the cost of energy, competitiveness, innovation, trends, consumer demands, government regulations, profitability, good taste…and whatever else comes down the pike.  Today, large or small, being in business requires flexibility.  It also means being passionate about what you do — so that your customers choose to come to you on those snowy mornings, seeking out your freshly baked goods, rather than your competitor’s.  Passion tells all — you can taste it in every mouthwatering crumb.  Think for a minute of what you do best in your bakery — you should be smiling now, if not downright hungry.

I had a dream first day on the job — attending a trade show with Jane, which allowed me to meet readers while surrounded by the eye-catching displays of suppliers’ culinary arts. The fetching smells of chocolate, cream and nuts enveloped our booth as we chatted with bakers new and highly experienced.  As inspiring as it is to meet men who’ve been in the industry for 50 years, I found my heart captured by the young men and women whose love of food, and, in particular, baking, has led them to launch bakeries or bakery/delis in the past year or two.

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One young couple told me how her mother had started their retail operation six years ago.  Then, there had been a number of competitors, in addition to the supermarket.  Now, it was just their bakery and the chain store.  While they’d inherited the business, their love for baking shone from their faces as they slowly wandered from booth to booth, seeking out new ideas and products that might tantalize their customers’ taste buds.  Another young man, finishing his culinary training, works daily alongside his mother in their Niagara region bakery.  His intensity radiated from him as he considered the next booth’s offerings of bars, parfaits and slices.  He shared with me the slow work of rebuilding traffic in a business that was run down when they took it over.  Another young man stopped to subscribe to our magazine, his bakery-deli-catering operation less than a year old.  His enthusiasm and energy were infectious as he grabbed one of our recipe books to gather additional ideas for his budding business.

I think that is what makes this industry so exciting — that there is room for the large corporate baking operations, mid-sized wholesalers and family retail bakeries — often the cornerstone of small villages.  Addressing the issues of the baking industry — as a whole — is our mission.  And, oddly enough, when it comes to food safety, energy costs, profitability or trends — size doesn’t matter.  Everyone faces the same challenges, just on a different scale.

These days, more and more of your customers grew up without a mother or grandmother who baked from scratch.  You’re now the one who provides them the delectable aromas, scrumptious tastes and unforgettable textures that they will take home to their families to share at dinner tables and remember for years to come.  We’re the industry that provides not just the staff of life, but the reason to linger at the dinner table, or to gather there in the first place.  I look forward to hearing from you — tell me your stories:  editor@bakersjournal.com.

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