While the new production line in Flowers Baking Co. of Henderson, Nev., may aim to make the most Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB) with the smallest amount of people, that doesn’t mean people weren’t a factor in the decision to install one of the company’s most sophisticated production lines in this established bakery.

“We knew it was the right place because we had the right team in place,” said Robert Benton, executive vice president of network optimization for Flowers Foods.

Most of the leadership team in Henderson has been with Flowers Foods, or with this specific facility, for quite some time. Plant Manager Dave Brecht, for example, started his career with Flowers Foods in 1989. Megan Farrar, receiving superintendent, and Alex Irvin, production superintendent, both worked at the facility under Interstate Bakeries Corp. and stayed on when Flowers acquired the building. Jesse Bonner, production manager, has been with Flowers for 28 years and moved to the Henderson facility in 2013. 

The new installation also provided opportunities for exceptional talent on the existing conventional line. 

“We’re big on promoting from within, so the lead and supervisor positions on this line were people who worked on the conventional line,” Mr. Brecht said. 

From there, the rest of the production team for the DKB line was hired from an unemployment agency, a job fair and Flowers Foods’ Second Chance Employment program. 

Much of the automation on the new production line was spurred by the difficult hiring climate the United States faces. In the Las Vegas area, the bakery fights against a low unemployment rate. As far as retention, the area is known for its transience. 

“Most people who leave us are leaving Vegas,” Mr. Brecht explained. “That’s our biggest issue with retention, not the bakery itself, just the nature of where we are.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Flowers Foods/DKB, click here.