When Steve O’Donnell and David Nolan started Hill Country Bakery, they found a location in the middle of a residential neighborhood just 10 minutes south and west of downtown San Antonio. Over the years, Hill Country has seen its decision pay off. During the past four years as a part of its continuous improvement (C.I.) program, the company has doubled its plant productivity.

Comprised of key members of the production, engineering and other disciplines, the C.I. group meets weekly to analyze productivity, benchmark operations and determine how to drive out costs and boost efficiency. Sometimes small investments paid off big time. For instance, the team found an after-market device that seemed to solve nagging problem with packaging breakdowns. It was an $11,000 investment that saved $1 million over the period of a year. Larger investments, like ultrasonic cake slicers, slashed waste and reduced labor on its newest lines.

All too often, we hear about how companies invest in their people. Often, it’s just lip service. It’s also nice to see how a company and its employees — working together and doing the right thing — pays off in the long run.

Check outBaking & Snack’s upcoming September issue for more about Hill Country Bakery.