CHICAGO — Taking a 76-year-old family business into the future is a daunting task, but that’s exactly what Kristy Taddiono Mullins and Toni Taddonio Brenzikofer are doing with Mile Hi Companies, Denver. The sisters are fourth-generation owners of the business with Ms. Taddonio Mullins serving as president and Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer serving as president of Mile Hi Warehousing and Logistics Division and the Taddonio Family Foundation. The sisters told their story during the American Society of Baking’s 2022 BakingTech conference, held March 1-3.
Mile Hi Cos. biggest customer is McDonald’s and that partnership began in 1956. Back then Mile High Cos. was Mile Hi Fruits & Vegetables, and it was a potato contract for French fries rather than a contract for hamburger buns. It wasn’t until 1982 when McDonald’s approached Mile Hi Fruits & Vegetables to suggest the company branch out into bakery. In 1985, Mile Hi Cos. partnered with East Balt Bakery to open Mile Hi Bakery in Denver, the first McDonald’s bakery in Colorado. The bakery business has grown ever since.
In 2013, Mile Hi built a new bakery to produce for McDonald’s specifically when their existing facility was exceeding capacity. The company took this as an opportunity to lean into its values around sustainability. The new bakery is the first McDonald’s bakery to become LEED Gold certified.
“Part of the LEED Gold certification process is about education, so if you walk through the bakery you will see signs that talk about what it means to be LEED Gold: low energy usage, water reduction, shore power, generators, there are multiple things we do,” Ms. Taddonio Mullins said. “And we also provide educational tools on what does that look like at the bakery.”
In 2021, Mile Hi Bakery was awarded McDonald’s Global Impact Award for its commitment and work toward sustainability.
In 2018 the company branched out once more to start the Mile High Warehousing and Logistics Division, which enabled Mile Hi to have more frozen storage for the bakery and McDonald’s.
“As we have all lived through this COVID existence, everyone has been asking about cold storage, and we tried to see that before it hit really hard and opened another division,” Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer explained.
Mile Hi has also partnered with smaller local bakeries to help them store not only finished product but also raw materials.
When it comes to family business, pictures of the next generation playing in the warehouse are heart-warming, but both Ms. Taddonio Mullins and Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer noted how their father, Tony Taddonio, chief executive officer of Mile Hi Bakery, pushed them when they joined the business.
“Our dad insisted that we learn every facet of the business so that the employees would respect us when we came into leadership positions,” Ms. Taddonio Mullins said. “Once we graduated from college, we worked every area of the business so we would have a good understanding of how it all works."
Ms. Taddonio Mullins even recalled being frustrated as a child at the long hours her father put in, but once she was in the business herself it clicked. She wrote him a letter at age 25 telling him she was all in.
“I didn’t become a leader overnight. It took a good 20 years of working with my father under his guidance to get where I am today,” she said. “Looking back, I was probably a little resentful of not having the title right away, but thank God I didn’t because I wasn’t ready.”
Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer also shared that both sisters had to figure out where they ultimately fit based on their skillset. While Ms. Taddonio Mullins was suited for leading Mile Hi Cos., Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer runs the Taddonio Family Foundation in addition to leading the new Warehousing & Logistics Division. The foundation focuses on benefitting children in Colorado by partnering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and other non-profit organizations in addition to its work with the Ronald McDonald House.
In the past two years, the foundation has pivoted to focus on increasing food donations. It also started a fund for its employees called Embrace.
“No one was really ready for 2020, and I think a lot of people struggled to keep their homes and keep food on the table, so we created another facet called Embrace that really protects them in their time of need,” Ms. Taddonio Brenzikofer said.