Gold Standard Baking repeatedly added capacity until it ran out of parking spaces at its five-acre landlocked bakery located 15 minutes by car from Chicago’s Midway Airport. Specifically, the latest expansion gobbled up another 27,000 square feet of its adjacent lot to expand its laminated baked goods operation and packaging departments and poise the company for sustainable growth.
Today, the jampacked 187,000-square-foot facility produces 225 items on three croissant and two sweet goods lines. With the bakery busting at the seams, the temporary roadblock halted the execution of what had become a long pipeline of new products, said George Caparos. Still, the company discovered creative ways — including scheduling adjustments to maximize manpower with 12-hour shifts for supervisors — to eke out efficiencies to meet the needs of existing accounts and to even add some new business, albeit with a few limitations.
“We’ve said no new s.k.u.s (stock-keeping units), but we’ve been able to add on customers or added volume as long as it’s with an existing product,” he said. “We did the same thing on the Danish side. We had to turn down requests to add a different flavor or something that would cause a hiccup in the flow of the process. We had to make serious decisions to hold off on an opportunity so we can focus on providing the service that we’re known for.”
With this stopgap measure in place, Gold Standard Baking embarked on a long-term solution to build a second bakery and position the company for a golden era of prosperity. The company weighed multiple options, but it decided to stay close to home and set up shop in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.
“Everything pointed for us to build a plant in the Southeast or West coast, but when it came down to the end of the day, for us, it was, ‘How do you control the intangibles and continue to be who you are in the marketplace?’” Yianny Caparos explained. “And that was to build our expansion somewhere close to where it’s manageable for us to run the business with our personality, culture and philosophy. That’s why we chose southern Wisconsin. It’s only 60 miles from our Chicago bakery. It allows us to share the management and executive teams within the two facilities.”
With the start-up scheduled for this summer, the 200,000-square-foot facility will initially house one of the largest croissant lines in the nation — turning out 42,000 fully baked pastries an hour. Within a year, Yianny Caparos expects some 80 employees working on three shifts or 120 hours a week.
Moreover, the company already plans to install a second line in early 2018. Eventually, most likely in five years or fewer, Gold Standard Baking expects to invest more than $42 million to install up to five lines with 300 employees and see upwards of $200 million in annual sales, said Yianny Caparos.
He noted key equipment partners at Pleasant Prairie include a Shick Solutions ingredient handling system; Shaffer, a Bundy Baking Solution, mixer; Rademaker makeup line; CBF Bakery Systems proofing and oven loading; Babbco tunnel oven; Tecnopool spiral cooling; and LeMatic bulk slicing and packaging.
While the Pleasant Prairie bakery should relieve the pressure at the Chicago plant, that respite will likely be short-lived.
“George already has a pipeline of new business to come on board,” Yianny Caparos pointed out. “It won’t put us at an overcapacity position like today, but it will put us in a very comfortable position in operations.”