In a recent television appearance on CNBC, Greg Rayburn, chief executive of Hostess Brands, Inc., acknowledged that the company was seeking “painful” concessions from its employees in an effort to emerge from bankruptcy. He said the decision was particularly difficult for workers given that they had made earlier concessions as part of the company’s failed exit from bankruptcy in 2009.

In an interview last week with Milling & Baking News, Mr. Rayburn offered a hopeful vision of Hostess if the reorganization plan is achieved.

“What I want for Hostess is for it to be as strong a competitor as it can be, which I think is much more effective and strong than it has been in recent years,” he said. “I think it has tremendous upside, tremendous potential, but what I want to see it do is what I call generate its own oxygen. You’ve got to be profitable. You’ve got to make your own money. You’ve got to fund your own livelihood, and you’ve got to fund enough to make up for years of lack of investment. And those are the goals for this company, to have a plan that says we will have the funds to invest, we will make the investments.”

Coupled with this hopeful view, though, Mr. Rayburn left no doubt about what will happen if no agreement with the unions is reached. He explained, “There wouldn’t be a merger. There wouldn’t be a different transaction. I think if we don’t get a majority of the Bakers’ and Teamsters unions voting yes to the ratification, we would immediately start the sale of assets and Hostess would shut down.”

Results of the vote will be known by Sept. 17. Much rides on the outcome of this drama, not only for Hostess and its workers but for the entire baking industry.