When Rudi’s Organic Bakery started to produce gluten-free bread, creating a bread loaf that was soft, fluffy and tasty wasn’t the only challenge the bakery faced. Holding onto a labor force with the skills and experience needed was also critical. Because Boulder, CO, is a college town, its labor market often resembles a revolving door as college students look for temporary work and switch jobs frequently. This labor force does not stick around long enough to gain the experience necessary to benefit the very hands-on process that is Rudi’s gluten-free production line.

“This is really an artisan operation,” said Hanno Holm, COO. “Everything has to be controlled with a small batch. You judge if it’s ready with eyes and ears and touch.” When Rudi’s started up its gluten-free line, the company could not run three shifts simply because there weren’t enough knowledgeable workers to handle that capacity.

To address this vital need, the bakery is investing heavily in development training. “By the end of this year, we should be 30 to 40% up from where we are right now and next year another 50%,” Mr. Holm said.