A tale of 600 plants

by Laurie Gorton
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Laurie Gorton, former Executive Editor, Baking & Snack.
 

You don’t see my byline very often on this page. I prefer the role of technical explainer-in-chief over that of industry firebrand. And I’m proud of the thought, energy and independence my colleagues always bring to this column.

Today is different. These comments mark my last regular contribution to Baking & Snack because I plan to retire at the end of April. I’ve had your ears and eyes for the past 34 years, and counting an earlier job in the same field of coverage, it’s been 42 years altogether that I reported about the baking industry.

Paul Lattan, our publisher, asked me recently how many bakeries and snack food plants I visited over the years. The best I could do was guess at more than 600 in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

All those plant visits, including a few to flour mills and many to allied suppliers’ facilities, supported at least 2,000 articles in excess of 500 monthly magazine issues. And that doesn’t count Baking Science & Technology, 4th ed., a textbook I rewrote that encompassed two volumes, nearly 1,600 pages and almost 700,000 words.

Participation in AACC International, AIB International, American Bakers Association, American Society of Baking, Institute of Food Technologists and Society of Bakery Women, plus other groups, enriched my knowledge of this industry and its people. Every contact I made helped me better understand what it means to be you, to be the person charged with engineering a bakery or snack food plant; with shepherding new products to market; and with ­safely and profitably operating a business.

Many enduring friendships resulted from all the plant visits and travel, plus the countless meetings and the ­collaboration with contributing editors. I even met my late husband that way.

Dan Malovany, our editorial director, challenged me to describe my legacy. After much thought, I believe it to be the example of persistence. Without that, and maybe more than a little stubbornness, I and this magazine would not have weathered the competitive tempests, the economic setbacks and all the times I heard the answer “no” to my questions about plant visits or interviews.

Today, you hold in your hands a 156-page, free-­standing, perfect-bound magazine; my first issue of Baking Equipment ran just 50 pages and existed only as an every-other-month supplement inside
Milling & Baking News.

For more than a decade, the magazine had only one editor on staff: me. But I persisted. So did my publishers and salesmen, all strongly backed by the management here at Sosland Publishing Co. As the years continued, the magazine added editors and support staff. I am glad that Baking & Snack became the team effort it is today. Helping to get it there is also my legacy.

Looking back, I would not have wanted my career, my calling, to be any different. My time with you, the readers, has been very rewarding. For all your help, guidance and, most of all, friendship, I thank you.

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