When opportunity knocks, United Dairy Farmers (UDF) is always ready to open the door. That’s how the Cincinnati-based convenience store chain and its vertically integrated manufacturing units have succeeded for eight decades. It’s also why it built its new 45,000-square-foot bakery and fresh food facility with more than enough room to expand when any opportunity — expected or not — arises.

“We figured out what we needed, but we built more — not only for our potential growth, but as someone at our company once said, ‘the anyhow theory,’ ” noted Brad Lindner, the company’s chief executive officer. “If you’re going into a new business, why not build it for extra capacity? Anyhow, it doesn’t cost you that much more. We took a similar approach to the bakery. The equipment we have clearly has so much more capacity than what we need. At some point in time, there will be the opportunity for us to manufacture for others.”

UDF also has a bakery to expand its product portfolio and test new concepts through its chain of c-stores.

“It allows us to explore new products,” Mr. Lindner said. “We’re always asking ourselves, ‘Why don’t we try this product or that one? We have the capabilities already.’ It makes for a more invigorating atmosphere where people can see their results and impact on the business.”

By being vertically integrated in many ways, he added, UDF can control its own destiny as much as possible.

Additionally, fresh food items like its square, yeast-raised donuts provide a great highway for growth.

“As far as industry trends, with the decline of historical c-store categories like cigarettes, fuel or soda pop, there is a real need to backfill that void with something,” Mr. Lindner said. “What we have developed with our donuts is the ability to go to our stores daily and deliver something that a lot of competition can’t offer. It really cements ourselves in that position of offering a high-quality, great-value fresh product lineup along with the other snacks that you have to have in a convenience store.”

This article is an excerpt from the August 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on United Dairy Farmers, click here.