Jon Dairman cares … a lot. He cares about his family, the people he works with and the product they deliver every day. He cares about the smallest details of efficiency. And it’s that care that has powered much of his — and by extension Doughnut Peddler’s — success.

Throughout his career at the Chandler, Ariz.-based business, Mr. Dairman’s attention to detail and obsession with efficiency has led him to solve some of the company’s most troublesome problems. Several of them may seem small to an outsider, but each of those innovations has catapulted Doughnut Peddler from a donut shop to the national footprint it has today.

“Jon brings a great work ethic, a positive attitude and strong loyalty to the company that is unmatched,” said Jason Duffy, president of Doughnut Peddler. “He is open to learn new things and uses his expertise to help the company and others grow.”

Except for a two-week stint at an attempt at a career change, Mr. Dairman has spent his entire career at Doughnut Peddler. He says it was the people and the atmosphere that brought him back.

“It was work, but we were doing hard work with people we liked and laughing and joking and smiling,” he said about his return to Doughnut Peddler in 2001.

“If you can’t laugh and joke and smile, I don’t want to do that. I want to build things, make things, accomplish things. I want to make something bigger, better or more efficient, faster, smarter. There is progress to be seen at the end of the project even if it’s simply ‘I made product today.’ ”

Every day, as director of innovation, facilities and equipment, Mr. Dairman gets to do just that.

Mr. Dairman’s official start date at Doughnut Peddler is 2001 after his brief hiatus, but he actually began at Doughnut Peddler in 1999 as a packer, working throughout high school and college while he trained to be a firefighter. But the company culture and vision hooked him, and Mr. Dairman found himself sticking around.

“We had a plan, and I remember telling all my friends about it, and they laughed because we were just this small donut shop, so to talk about growing this thing into this big national company is something no one else really believed except those of us who worked here,” he said.

Mr. Dairman came back with a plan to make himself as valuable to the company as possible by working every position he could. He familiarized himself with the ins and outs of the process and business. He started as a baker and moved up through the ranks to supervisor before pivoting to driver.

“I knew I would be more valuable and flexible and helpful to the cause if I knew multiple areas of the company,” he said. “I wanted to try baking because at least I could learn it, and then when I was a driver, I knew I would be more beneficial to the company if I drove every route and not just one. I wanted to learn them all so if someone called out, I could switch routes.”

He’s also served as a manager in all three areas: packing, baking and driving. But it’s in the driver department where Mr. Dairman really discovered his niche. As manager, he was no longer driving routes but on standby in case of breakdowns or accidents, waiting to swoop in and rescue drivers and donuts. There were a lot of nights when all would go right on the routes, and he would be sitting around with a bunch of manufacturing equipment not in use. And it was in those late hours that he would start tinkering.

“We were a small operation, and all the equipment was older, so I had a lot of time in the middle of the night and the equipment wasn’t being used,” he said. “So I would use that time to try and fix anything that needed to be fixed, and I taught myself how to work on the equipment.”

Understanding every aspect of Doughnut Peddler’s operation as well as the equipment and process would serve Mr. Dairman well as he took on some of Doughnut Peddler’s biggest challenges.

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.