Specialty Bakery on the road to success

by Dan Malovany
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Specialty Bakery’s leadership team includes (front row, from left) Laura Reeves, human resources director; Jim Zakian, executive vice-president of supply chain; Cristy Sinclair, director of food safety and quality, and Duane Brunner, controller, and (back row, from left) Terry Luther, vice-president of procurement; David D’Onofrio, senior vice-president, sales and marketing; Ahmad Hamade, CEO; Jim Little, vice-president of innovation and quality, and Keith Petrofsky, director of innovation.

In many ways, it seemed like only yesterday when Ahmad Hamade, chief executive officer of Specialty Bakery, and Jim Zakian executive vice-president, supply chain, were staring out of an office across the road from where the Indianapolis bakery now stands, watching the snow fall during a cold, blustery day in February 2014, making preparations and wondering when the weather would break so they could ramp up construction on their ambitious project. Eventually it did, on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Within nine months, Specialty Bakery began production on its frozen dough bread line in November, followed by the frozen cookie dough operation in December and the baked flatbread line in January 2015. Specialty Bakery initially sought a brownfield site for its new facility.

“We thought if we could find a building that fit our needs footprint-wise, we might be able to fast-track the project,” Mr. Hamade recalled. They learned differently. “There are buildings available, but by the time you put the drains and floors in, the cost and time in putting up a new building are more advantageous than having to retrofit an existing building because of our custom needs,” he noted.

Mr. Zakian saw it from a different angle.

“Typically, when you go into an existing building, it’s not laid out the right way,” he explained. “Often, it’s warehouse space, and warehouse space has all of the doors along the long wall. But manufacturing is totally opposite of a warehouse. Its doors are along the short wall because you want to use the length of the building for production.”

In the end, the company decided on a greenfield project that provided almost everything it needed.

“I wanted to put in skylights, but they proved to be cost prohibitive,” Mr. Hamade joked. Find out more about this new company and its new bakery in the August issue of Baking & Snack magazine.

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