After Doughnut Peddler merged with its new partners about seven years ago, the company had the capital and scale-up knowledge to execute its nationwide growth plan. The company headed to the East Coast and opened four bakeries between 2017 and 2019. As corporate operations manager, Jon Dairman was responsible for the build-out of all four bakeries, a task that would require all the skills he had developed until then.

The decision to do four bakeries in quick succession was born out of necessity, he said: “We knew there was a need in the market. We knew there were voids that multiple customers were asking us to take the model into these other markets. We knew that if we did it slowly, some of those voids were going to be filled by someone other than us.”

The expansion also marked Doughnut Peddler’s jump to automated production. In Arizona, the company’s process, especially makeup, is very manual. Historically, Doughnut Peddler has prioritized job creation, and as Mr. Dairman pointed out, automation can take away from that. But automation also helps a company stay competitive.

“I am very much of the idea that some day you become obsolete and provide no jobs if you don’t keep up, and I also think you have a responsibility to your customers to provide the best product you can,” he said. “I think automation helps you get there, so I was insistent on automation.”

In the end, Mr. Dairman’s argument won out, and each new bakery, from Charlotte, NC, to Chattanooga, Tenn., to Orlando, Fla., to Houston is automated and more efficient than the last.

Being in charge of the build-outs used every bit of Mr. Dairman’s skillset. He understood how the equipment worked and the ins and outs of what employees would need to do their jobs. That’s not to say he didn’t learn a lot from the experience. At every bakery build-out, he was always learning from engineers and the equipment manufacturers.

Mr. Dairman was suprised, however, that the hardest part of the expansion was the staffing.

“Getting a good crew that fits our culture was hard,” he said. “I feel like we’re finally getting there. We have really good people in the company across the country, and our people care. We’re very excited about the people we have, but we were very shocked by how long it took to get the number of good people we have.”

That culture of care taps into the other piece of what makes Mr. Dairman tick.

“Jon leads by example,” said Jason Duffy, chief executive officer of Doughnut Peddler. “He never asks someone to do something he wouldn’t do. He engages with other employees in a way that shows he cares, and people respond to him.”

This article is an excerpt from the December 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Operations Executive of the Year, click here.