Historically, production, sales and marketing departments in the baking industry tended to operate on different wavelengths — some may argue that’s an understatement — due to the nature of their jobs and their objectives for strategically growing businesses. However, the once-vast abyss among the specialized groups has narrowed considerably as cross-functional teams collaborate to streamline new product development, increase speed-to-market and improve customer service.
At Clif Bar, the gap between operations and marketing as well as customers and consumers is virtually non-existent because of a cohesive company culture that even bridges the buying of equipment with an eye on brand building, said Rich Berger, vice-president of engineering, food supply, for the Emeryville, Calif.-based company.
“Equipment design can and should go beyond reliability and efficiency, environmental impact, hygienic performance, workplace safety and security, lifecycle costs, information visibility and flexibility to accommodate ever-changing consumer preferences are now factors that go into equipment purchasing decisions,” he noted. In many ways, he added, investing in equipment and in customer service is interrelated. “When we’re designing or engineering process and packaging equipment, we think, ‘Where could the market and consumer preferences go? How can we enhance the design of our equipment and facility to be agile enough to accommodate those trends?’” Mr. Berger observed. “You can’t build a line to be everything for everyone and every product, but we have a great group of marketing and sales people who give us insights and direct us with consumer preferences. We try to design and deploy assets to support our business now and in the future.”