In a co-manufacturer’s world, audits and surprise visits are the status quo. It’s not just customer audits from entities such as AIB International. “All of our customers’ quality control people come into the bakery personally,” said Byron Goulding, president, Oak State Products.

“Then we get audited by AIB International, and we are BRC compliant, Grade A,” he continued. And it’s not always customers popping in. “Last week, we had a new customer audit, and about 15 minutes after they came in, we had a surprise audit from another customer,” said Steve Goulding, Oak State CEO.

A number of large clients and a high standard for compliance might seem overwhelming, but it actually works to Oak State’s advantage. Its large clients have strict standards; by maintaining compliance with the strictest set of rules, the bakery by default meets most others’ standards, including the government.

“We have a diverse number of clients, and they all have different requirements. By meeting all those demands, we never have to worry about the government walking through the door because we’re ready,” Steve said.

The company also practices consistent self-auditing and documentation, as well as corrective actions for incidents as minor as leaving a tool on a ledge or as major as allergen controls.

Byron compared it to keeping a clean house. “We are constantly ready for audits,” he said. “It’s not like calling a maid to clean the house for a last-minute guest; you’re always ready to have someone drop by at a moment’s notice.”