Everything is brand new at Specialty Bakery LLC — the company, the building, the bakery, the employees and even the two, still-warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that the FedEx delivery man took from a display case after dropping off packages in the visitors’ entrance.
Moments later, over in the new conference room, industry veterans Ahmad Hamade, CEO, and Jim Zakian, executive vice-president, supply chain, reflected on what they built in the Purdue Research Park just a hop, skip and a jump from the Indianapolis International Airport — and how quickly they did it. (Click for a slideshow of photos from Specialty Bakery).
“Just over a year ago, the bakery site was a grassy field,” Mr. Hamade pointed out.
Today, the 225,000-sq-ft ultra-modern bakery houses three high-speed production lines — each located in separate rooms to control quality — that currently turn out frozen cookie dough, frozen bread dough and fully baked flatbread for the foodservice industry, including one of the largest quick-service restaurant chains in North America.
And there’s plenty of room to grow, according to Mr. Hamade. The existing facility has a fourth enclosed production room that can be rapidly ramped up into operation after installing equipment as the business attracts more customers. Moreover, on the 27 acres of land where the bakery rests, Specialty Bakery can expand the plant by another 90,000 sq ft. That’s enough space to install up to four more high-speed production lines.
In all, the company invested $78 million — or about $24 million in building the plant and another $54 million in equipment, information technology and other support to start up the bakery — according to a filing with the Indianapolis Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee.
David D’Onofrio, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, noted the investment reflects the company’s dedication to quality, food safety and its current and future customers’ needs. “Our vision is simple,” he said. “We want to be the premier bakery in the foodservice, retail and in-store bakery channels. With this state-of-the-art, highly automated bakery, we are very flexible and very responsive. If we aren’t nimble, that doesn’t do us or our customers any good. Speed to market is critical to everyone. By the commitment that we made, we certainly can do things here that others can’t.”