Slideshow: Masada Bakery joins The Bakery Companies

by Laurie Gorton
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NORCROSS, GA. — Masada Bakery is rolling in seeds and flaked grains to launch a new organic line under its own brand. The full-flavored artisan loaves and buns fulfill the often-voiced “kneads” of food service customers and consumers in the Southeast and nationwide. This introduction also shows renewed commitment to specialty breads as the Norcross, GA, bakery enters its next life as part of The Bakery Companies (formerly Tennessee Bun Co., TBC), Nashville, TN.

“About the new organic line,” said Ezekiel (Hezi) Stein, Masada’s founder, “we were a pioneer in natural bread, especially here in the South, when we started Masada in the 1980s. It may be a small market now, statistically speaking, but people young and old are asking for more fresh, healthful ways to eat. That’s the biggest trend in America today.”

Jacob (Koby) Stein, Masada’s president, affirmed, “This is where Masada Bakery fits. We can serve our customers nutritious, fresh and healthy breads daily.”

New alliance, old values

Organic products carry forward the bakery’s promise, expressed in the company’s motto, “Fulfilling Your Basic Kneads.” Yet it was another basic need that prompted its new role within TBC.

“Our customers and our team wanted us to learn artisan baking,” said Cordia Harrington, TBC’s founder and chief executive officer. “They kept asking us for such products.”

Marshall Maddox, TBC’s president, explained, “We hear our customers wanting to differentiate offerings to their consumers. They are looking for something to set themselves apart, and handmade artisan products can do that.”

But this style of production wasn’t feasible at the company’s existing Tennessee facilities. For three years, executives mulled building or buying. “We did look at building, but we learned that artisan products are about much more than the machines,” Ms. Harrington said. “It’s the people, the recipes and the artisan bakers that really matter. Talented bakers learn over years and years. It is an art and a science.”

Then a mutual supplier introduced her to Hezi and Koby Stein. The brothers built Masada Bakery on artisan products, appealing formulations and family business values. “This combination was compelling,” she said.

The Steins had been approached several times by potential buyers and partners, but the offer they accepted was from TBC.

“Once we met Cordia, Tom Harrington, Joe Waters and the team, we were convinced this would be an excellent fit where both bakeries will complement each other as far as experience, products and markets,” Koby Stein said. “Our goal was always to continue growing the business while providing a great workplace for our employees and an excellent partner for our customers.”

In 2014, Masada Bakery became part of TBC, a $100 million company whose products can be found in quick-service restaurants, foodservice providers and grocery stores east of the Rockies. Its family of businesses includes Tennessee Bun Co., Dickson, Tenn., and Nashville Bun Co., CornerStone Frozen Bakery Products and Cold Storage of Nashville, all located in Nashville, Tenn.

“Few regional bakers can offer their customers a comprehensive product mix ranging from artisan to high-speed to frozen dough to English muffins and biscuits,” Ms. Harrington said. “Add to that a direct-store-delivery (DSD) network that serves seven states in the southeastern US and frozen distribution that stretches nationwide — joining TBC with Masada Bakery made all this possible.”

The benefits run both ways. “Masada Bakery gets easy access to a high-quality supply of hamburger buns, English muffins, biscuits and frozen doughs for their DSD routes and customers,” Ms. Harrington explained. “And our Tennessee operations now have a great lineup of artisan breads, buns, bagels and sweet goods to offer. These items complement the current mix and expand sales opportunities with our TBC customer base.”

For Hezi and Koby Stein, it was the right decision. “In some aspects, the business did not change; it just expanded,” Koby Stein said. “We retained almost all of our employees, existing customers and vendors. We continue to produce the same great products and service our market with our wide distribution network.”

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