Hostess: Staying true to the company core

by Dan Malovany
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William Toler, president and c.e.o. of Hostess Brands, said, “We try to avoid the ‘big company’ look and feel."

For Hostess Brands, staying true to the company’s core identity is a defining characteristic of this iconic bakery. With nearly 100 years of brand equity that’s reaching global proportions, Hostess strives for an entrepreneurial, startup mentality.

“We try to avoid the ‘big company’ look and feel,” said William Toler, president and c.e.o. of the Kansas City-based sweet goods producer. “We like to think of ourselves as nimble, fleet of foot and able to react, change and innovate.”

In an exclusive interview published in Baking & Snack magazine’s February issue, Mr. Toler described the progress Hostess has made since being acquired out of bankruptcy by new owners. He shared his plans for the future and his perspectives on what transpired at Hostess before chairman C. Dean Metropoulos recruited him to run the business beginning in May 2014. Almost two years into the job, the experience has fully met Mr. Toler’s expectations to help the Hostess brand “live happily ever after.”

“Dean had the vision, took the risk,” Mr. Toler said. “I sort of had the easy job. He dove into this, and he has an incredible sense of business and brands, and he knows when there’s value to be created. It’s funny, he said this, and I have, too. People, literally friends, will come up and thank us for saving the Twinkie. Well, nobody ever thanked us for saving the Vlasic Pickle. But the Twinkie, people care about.”

Hear for yourself how Hostess made one of the sweetest comebacks in history. Check out Mr. Toler’s keynote presentation at the American Society of Baking’s Best Week in Baking, which runs Feb. 28-March 1 in Chicago.
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