Before the Lynchburg Organic Baking Co. began making Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB), it was a continuous mix Sunbeam operation, a completely different process with different equipment and required a different skill set from its workforce. The dedicated workforce in Lynchburg is one of the reasons the plant was chosen to take on Dave’s Killer Bread capacity, but it required educating the employees on a much different process. 

“They had to be completely retrained on what a bread moulder was because they didn’t have one before, so the process was drastically different,” said Robert Benton, executive vice president of network optimization, Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga. “Those employees became bread people.” 

Mr. Benton accomplished this in several ways. First, Tim Gentry, vice president of manufacturing, and the startup team worked to train the employees on the new equipment. For the new ingredients and formulating knowledge, Flowers brought in the ingredient suppliers to teach classes on the functionality of the new ingredients. 

Equipment vendors also helped train employees to go from the previous bakery’s very manual controls to the digital HMIs they would be using. Mr. Benton pointed out, however, that the maintenance crew became an integral part of the startup for several reasons. 

“They had to learn all new equipment, so it became critical as we built the bakery that they were part of building it back together,” he said. “So when we brought in a bread divider, they helped put it in, and then when we built the oven, they helped put the shelves in.”

This experience of actually helping install the equipment gave the maintenance crew an intimate knowledge of how the equipment works as well as ownership over the new bakery.

This article is an excerpt from the August 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Flowers Foods/DKB, click here.