The bakery’s R.&D. team takes its customers’ products from concept to production.

Product development is nothing new to David Nolan, former restaurant owner and now managing partner of Hill Country Bakery, and his brother, Larry, the company’s director of R.&D. In fact, the two of them have created and reformulated hundreds of products over the years for their customers.

During the past year, David spearheaded and refined the Coffee House Cafe and Nutridurance product development efforts while Larry and the R.&D. department worked on 50 projects for a variety of food service, in-store and private label accounts. Many of those projects recently involved “ooey, gooey butter” bars and other decadent desserts.

Typically, Larry said, the process starts with 10-lb batches to make samples, which are sent to customers for feedback. New product development ranges from one day to three months, depending on the number of customer requests to further refine the concept.

After the prototypes are approved, Larry moves the process to the pilot plant where bakers conduct 1,600- to 2,000-lb batch test runs. Depending on the complexity of the project, multiple tests are done at this stage. Rejected products and other damaged or waste items eventually become livestock feed under the company’s zero-waste manufacturing program or are donated to local area food banks.