New Horizons Baking Co. (NHBC), Norwalk, Ohio, is passionate about its people. It’s part of the company culture since Tim Brown, chairman, took over ownership and a value he’s instilled in Trina Bediako, chief executive officer, and Mike Porter, president and chief operating officer. In light of the changing workforce and the crisis that has ensued, Ms. Bediako and Mr. Porter have been proactive about looking for new ways they can change the business of baking to better serve today’s worker, rather than expecting today’s worker to adapt to them. 

“We’ve changed how we lead; we’ve changed how we operate,” Ms. Bediako said. “Because in order to succeed in this industry you have to change.”

Part of that change was hiring Mr. Porter’s son, Noah Porter, as an intern. His son, who now works for NHBC full time in recruiting, spent a summer working in every aspect of the bakery and evaluating the company’s culture from the eyes of a millennial. His report was eye-opening. 

“He said our break room looked like a morgue,” Mr. Porter said. “People don’t know where to park or where to go on their first day — little things that help people feel comfortable. He did a presentation for all of us and really read us our mail.”

It would be easy for a company to ignore the critique of a college student, but NHBC has since put a marketplace in the break room to offer employees better food options. The company is also remodeling its conference room, which is often where potential or new employees are taken for interviews and onboarding. 

“He told us that he brings new recruits into this conference room, and it’s just dismal,” Mr. Porter said. “So we’re going to make it more modern.”

This article is an excerpt from the December 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Operations Executive of the Year, click here.