For the past 16 years, Brandon Heiser managed various food manufacturing facilities. All too often over those years, he heard himself say, “If I built this plant, I wouldn’t have done it this way.” But as director of operations for AbiMar Foods (formerly Fehr Foods), Mr. Heiser got the chance to do it the right way when the Abilene, Texas-based cookie manufacturer decided to venture into the cracker market.

The golden opportunity came from Steve Fehr, who hired Mr. Heiser a decade ago and served as his mentor until a tragic accident took the lives of Mr. Fehr and his wife.

“Steve believed in operational excellence and doing the right thing,” Mr. Heiser said about his friend. “He instilled his beliefs in his company and in everything he did. This became the competitive advantage of Fehr Foods. Steve was a great visionary who could not only see the future but knew how to make his visions and dreams become real. He did this with honesty, integrity and unbelievable hard work.”

Mr. Fehr’s vision to venture into the cracker category and make the company a one-stop shop for its customers came true earlier this year when the bakery held its grand opening for the new bakery.

“I never saw him more amazed,” Mr. Heiser recalled. “He walked around like a kid in a candy store telling me and others how what we did was amazing. The funny thing about that moment was that, during the entire project, I used the lessons I learned from Steve over the years to guide my decisions and actions. In a way, it was like he didn’t even realize that he really was a huge part of why the project was initially approved and why it turned out the way it did.”

Along with Mr. Heiser, the industry will miss Steve and Vicki Fehr. Check out the September issue of Baking & Snack magazine for more on how Mr. Fehr’s vision came true.