When it comes to running the family business, the team at Piantedosi Baking Co., Malden, Mass., has a simple slogan.
“We use one phrase a lot, and that’s ‘do the right thing,’ ” said Carmine Piantedosi, director of production planning and distribution operations. “We view it in terms of quality, compliance, safety and pricing. At the end of the day, we want to put our best foot forward and do things the right way, and that’s how the company operates.”
A case in point involves sesame seeds. Two years ago after the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) named them the ninth major allergen, Piantedosi Baking shifted production of sesame-seeded bread and rolls to Fridays, then informed its local customers they would be receiving frozen products because of the allergen issue.
“Many bakeries decided to eliminate sesame seeds altogether,” said Adam Piantedosi, director of business development and retail sales. “We were inundated with requests from many new customers to fill this gap in the market along with our current customers requesting that we continue to produce products with sesame seeds. To successfully navigate this production challenge, not only did we move seeded production to Fridays, we limited these products to one size and implemented a more robust sanitation process prior to the FDA’s implementation date.”
About 200 people work at the BRC-AA certified facility where production runs six days a week on two, 10-hour shifts with 4 hours of maintenance and sanitation each day.
Production starts with the Pfening ingredient handling system, which has four, 100,000-lb silos supplying the bakery. Five Shaffer horizontal mixers continuously feed the four production lines with fresh dough as well as fermented sponges for its premium items.
In the makeup area, Line No. 1 is a string line that makes the bakery’s signature, 29-inch French bread and other hearth products for fresh and frozen distribution. After the dough is automatically lifted to the hopper, it travels through divider to a Rondo cone rounder and up to an intermediate proofer before sheeting and moulding.
During Baking & Snack’s visit, skilled operators hand-stretched the long dough pieces to the exact length prior to scoring, proofing and baking in a Thermatron tunnel oven. The bakery also has a Henry Group oven and a W&P/Gemini Bakery Equipment tunnel oven. That oven was installed along with a Capway CapStep proofer as part of a major modernization project in 2016.
Production flexibility can be seen throughout the bakery. That’s not surprising because of the company’s foodservice customer base and the number of SKUs it produces.
For instance, the interchangeable makeup lines produce a wide variety of sub and panini rolls that come in 6- to 12-inch sizes. On makeup Line No. 2, a Ribas Bakery System automatically lifts the trough and freshly made dough to the hopper of the divider, which can be easily changed to between six and eight pockets depending on the size of the roll.
After an intermediate proof, the dough pieces tumble down a chute, then through sheeter rollers, a curling chain, a 6-foot pressure plate and another curling chain. The aligned dough pieces then travel onto a reciprocator that drops them onto peel boards or channel pans.
Meanwhile, on another line, a Gemini Bakery Equipment makeup mainly creates panned buns and soft rolls and is outfitted with a variety of stampers, cutters, sprayers and topping systems for making everything from kaiser rolls to soft hamburger buns.
The line also has three scoring systems for creating multiple products. If needed, this line can also produce hearth bread and rolls.
With four makeup lines and three ovens, the operation relies on a network of interconnecting Capway conveyors to maximize throughput.
Arthur Piantedosi, director of business process and operational compliance, said this matrix allows the bakery to consistently operate three makeup lines while maximizing oven capacity.
During Baking & Snack’s tour, for instance, the bakery operated makeup Lines No. 1, 2 and 4.
He pointed out that makeup Line Nos. 2 and 3 are so similar that they can seamlessly feed any of the three ovens. A Capway T-conveyor directs peel boards or pans to the proper proofer and oven. This allows the bakery to clean one of the makeup lines while keeping the ovens full of product.
After baking and passing through a Capway depanner, the products cool on overhead racetrack conveyors while pans travel through a brush cleaner before recirculating back to the makeup area.
The fresh-baked goods then travel to the enclosed packaging department on a mezzanine level. Here, the bakery has one LeMatic and two UBE slicer/baggers that place products into 4-, 6-, 8- and 12-pack bags followed by Kwik Lok bag closing and Lock or Sesotec metal detection. From there, the packages head for cartoning and freezing or to the shipping department for fresh delivery.
On the lower level, the bakery uses a creatively designed “bread sled” — an open-faced box that’s shaped like a child’s sled — for shipping 10-packs of its 29-inch French breads. Instead of a bulky cardboard case, the sled has a handle on the back and is overwrapped in plastic for distribution.
“The sleds are easy to freeze and easy to carry and make great sleds in the winter,” Arthur Piantedosi said.
As the bakery expands in the retail channel, additional deep dives will be needed to make sure that the packaging department remains in sync with production volumes.
“If you’re producing smaller packages, you need to produce more of them at a faster rate to keep up with the volume of product that’s being produced,” Arthur Piantedosi observed. “It’s more challenging than producing larger packaging sizes.”
However, additional operational challenges related to the expansion of retail sales will be a positive signal that the fourth generation is succeeding with their vision while leaving their mark on the family business.
“When we look to the future, it’s about continuing with what we have done successfully with foodservice while adding new business opportunities such as retail,” Adam Piantedosi said.
From an operations and sales perspective, Arthur Piantedosi said, the biggest lesson from the pandemic involves reacting quickly to the changes in the market and staying nimble enough to jump on opportunities when they present themselves.
“We want to leave the business in a better place than when we received it,” he explained.
At Piantedosi Baking, the secret to long-term success is no secret at all. It’s about doing the right thing for everyone involved.
This article is an excerpt from the May 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Piantedosi Baking Co., click here.