After a few years in ingredient sales at DuPont, now IFF, Mike Porter, Baking & Snack’s 2022 Operations Executive of the Year, returned to New Horizons Baking Co. (NHBC), Norwalk, Ohio, as president and chief operating officer. The company had a new chief executive officer in Trina Bediako, who had an exciting new vision to take NHBC beyond baking, one that his new experiences were well-suited to fulfill.

“We want to be more than a baker,” Ms. Bediako said. “We want our place in this industry to be a provider of food, beverage and nutritional solutions, and our acquisition of Coalescence is the beginning step to help us get there.”

In May 2021, NHBC acquired Coalescence, Columbus, Ohio, a producer of custom seasoning blends, flavors and nutritional solutions for food, beverage and pet food. This first acquisition expanded the company into the ingredient space, an intentional shift born out of the changes Ms. Bediako and Mr. Porter have seen coming. 

“Our industry is changing; it’s far more competitive than it was 20 years ago when I started,” Ms. Bediako said. “We intend to play a significant role in the transition. We’re looking to grow, we’re looking to diversify, and we’re looking to be a part of this economy that has changed so much.”

One change that inspired the acquisition involved supply chain challenges. 

“There was an opportunity for us to vertically integrate,” Mr. Porter pointed out. “How can we use their skills and processes to fulfill our bakery needs as well as diversify our capabilities for our customers?”

For example, both Coalescence and NHBC use salt in bulk. Together they can leverage their increased buying power to ensure they obtain a steady supply of salt at a good price. 

Not only does Coalescence provide a new customer base with its ingredient solutions, but it also provides Genesis Baking Co. a partner in creating baked goods with more functional nutrition for customers. 

“Our Genesis Baking business is a co-manufacturer, built on a model of being a baker’s baker,” Mr. Porter explained. “Coalescence has expanded that business’ capabilities to include R&D for added nutrition or new seasoning blends without having to rely on an outside partner.” 

Since the acquisition, Coalescence has experienced previously untapped growth. Mr. Porter said they have plans to move the business into a larger facility next year. 

At the same time as the Coalescence acquisition, NHBC started up its third bakery, a 55,000-square-foot facility that had been serving the company as ingredient storage. The Toledo facility opened in April 2021, and the Coalescence acquisition was completed in May. 

Shepherding his various teams through all that change was one of the toughest parts of the acquisition.

“Change is always tough, but people can usually take change,” he said. “It’s the rate of change that’s difficult, and we had a lot of quick change.” 

The responsibility Mr. Porter felt for the 50 new employees at Coalescence and his team at NHBC and its other subsidiaries was instilled in him by his mentor, NHBC Chairman Tim Brown, and it helped him recognize and address fears the change brought. 

“We had to be very conscientious, and what that looked like was transparency and building trust,” he said. “That doesn’t come overnight. That will be ongoing, but I couldn’t be prouder of the team that’s over there and how they’ve embraced us and how we’ve embraced them.”

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.