Mike Porter, president and chief operating officer of New Horizons Baking Co. (NHBC), Norwalk, Ohio, and Baking & Snack’s 2022 Operations Executive of the Year, hasn’t always gotten it right when it comes to his career. He has been blessed, but he does point out that there is a curse when it comes to working in the baking industry: It takes a toll on the family. 

Mr. Porter admits in his early career when he was trying to make substantial strides, he missed much of his two oldest children’s early childhood. When he looks back at family pictures during that time, he’s not in them. Mr. Porter shares that so other young people in the industry don’t make the same mistake he did. 

“You have to get your priorities straight,” he said. “I had a support system at home that provided a pathway to building my career: a wife who believed in me and went without so I could be successful.” 

After 21 years at NHBC, Mr. Porter left to work in sales for a major ingredient supplier. During that time, the tables turned for him and Mrs. Porter. While he worked from home, she went back to work full time, and he had the opportunity to experience the loneliness she felt while she experienced the stress he had endured working outside of the home. As they’ve settled back into their roles with him working outside of the home and her helping with grandchildren, they have more empathy for one another. 

“I understand now what she goes through, and I can be there for her to better meet her needs,” he said. “I know young people want to climb, climb, climb, but had I known this 20 years ago, the curse might not have been as bad as it was for us.”

Mr. Porter has learned this lesson and is always trying to be better. He drives his grandson to school every morning to get that time together. And on Fridays, he works from home so he can take off at 2 p.m. to be there for his youngest son’s football game and takes a picture with his son at every one of them. 

“If they make it to the playoffs, I’ll have 40 pictures with him when he graduates high school,” he said. “I’ve canceled work trips. I’ve moved them. I didn’t even go to this year’s International Baking Industry Exposition until Saturday so I could be there. I haven’t missed one.”

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.