The Brown family has grown New Horizons Baking Co. (NHBC), Norwalk, Ohio, into a major supplier to some of the biggest brands in the United States, and Mike Porter, president and chief operating officer and Baking & Snack’s 2022 Operations Executive of the Year, said he’s been blessed to have been a part of that story. In 2009 as vice president of sales administration for NHBC’s subsidiary, Genesis Baking Co., Mr. Porter initiated the construction of NHBC’s rail spur where flour is delivered and blown underground into the facility. Before the rail spur, the bakery was receiving flour by truck several times a day. The spur enabled the bakery to buy flour in higher quantities at a better price and quality. 

The Ohio Rail Commission awarded NHBC a grant for the $50,000 project, and because of its benefit to the Norwalk community, the opening of the rail spur attracted the attention of a leading state official at that time. 

“The lieutenant governor asked me what else we had going on, and I knew we were getting ready to expand the bun line with a new oven,” Mr. Porter recalled. “And he mentioned there was more grant money out there.”

Mr. Porter went back to work and discovered an energy-efficiency grant that would award a maximum of $1 million, so the company installed a new oven with heat reclamation. The captured heat would be repurposed to heat the proof box and boilers. During the ribbon cutting for that expansion, Mr. Porter mentioned the grant application to the lieutenant governor’s assistant, who promised to keep an eye out for it.

“He called me later and says, ‘I can’t tell you anything, but you’re about to get a call and I just wanted to say congratulations,’ ” Mr. Porter remembered. “And 5 minutes later, I get a call that we’ve been awarded the grant for $1 million. I was about to pass out.”

A copy of the original check sits framed in Mr. Porter’s office. The investments made from 2009 to 2011 allowed NHBC to increase capacity from 4,000 to 5,000 dozen English muffins per line as the company added an English muffin line about every year and a half, Mr. Porter estimated.

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