This month, Baking Management debuts its first annual Influential 20, which includes 19 individuals and one power duo, whose leadership and efforts help strengthen the baking industry.
The Influential 20: presented in no particular order
Howard (Robin) Alton III
Renato (Ron) Turano
Senator Blanche Lincoln
This month, Baking Management debuts its first annual Influential 20, which includes 19 individuals and one power duo, whose leadership and efforts help strengthen the baking industry. These individuals have various affiliations, from bakeries to allieds to associations or government. And many are not only members, but strong contributors to baking industry associations, many of which require significant time commitments above and beyond their primary job function.
The diverse group of people being recognized in the Influential 20 demonstrates that no one criteria prevailed in the selection. Some individuals continually serve as ambassadors in the baking industry by encouraging collaborative efforts toward policy change, while others develop products that help the industry deliver higher quality and more efficient baked products. Others possess authority and influence that affects positive change, while some help stimulate consumer excitement in a particular aspect of the baking industry, thereby opening up potential new market opportunities.
Every one of the individuals chosen for this honor has shown a propensity for leadership by acting as a force for change in the wholesale baking industry. As such, many have commented on what obstacles they face in their prospective industry roles, and how they might overcome them. Each person also has achieved numerous accomplishments, many of which are discussed in his or her profile.
Congratulations to those acknowledged in this special feature on their well-deserved recognition.
Presented in no particular order, meet Baking Management's Influential 20…
Robert Benton, vice president of manufacturing, Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga., immediate-past chairman; executive committee member, American Society of Baking (ASB), and a graduate of the American Institute of Baking, was chairman during ASB's 2008-2009 management turnover where he was charged with resetting the course for the association, notes Jeff Dearduff, director of U.S. Bakeries, East Balt Inc., Chicago.
“Benton is a leader in the true sense of the word,” Dearduff says. “He has the authority to make things happen, and when he speaks, people listen.”
During his 29-year career at Flowers Foods, Benton feels extremely lucky to have had a number of people encourage and help him along the way. He is now honored to be in a position to guide others so they can assume future leadership roles, not only at Flowers, but within the industry as well.
“While there's a great deal of satisfaction in building and maintaining some of the industry's most technologically advanced bakeries, I have to say I'm most fortunate in being able to mentor and encourage the next generation of bakers, and [build] the life-long professional relationships I've developed over the years,” Benton says. “We're privileged to be part of an industry where individuals and companies can work together for the common good.”
Rich Hoskins, president, Colborne Corp., Lake Forest, Ill.; committee chair, IBIE 2010 and Linda Hoskins, executive director, American Pie Council (APC) are likely the hardest working couple in the baking industry.
As executive director of APC, Linda has an extensive role in bringing all aspects of the pie industry together for the Great American Pie Festival, the Pie Industry Seminar and the APC Crisco® National Pie Championships. Yet she credits the dedication of a strong board of directors made up of top managers representing most of the pie producers in North America with these events' success.
Although Rich has faced many challenges in running an automation company in the baking industry for the past 15 years, it has grown into the largest commercial robot integrator in the industry. But running a company is merely one part of Rich's responsibilities. He helped lead BEMA through some very challenging times as it restructured and hired new management, improved finances, and implemented a strategic plan to make the association a strong contributor. He now leads the IBIE committee that is preparing for its upcoming tradeshow in 2010.
“I'm so proud to be a small part of this impressive group that loyally work so hard at making sure we all have a better environment to work in,” Rich says.
Ron Savelli, C.E.O., Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., American Bakers Association (ABA) board of directors, feels he has been very fortunate in his career, having started the highly successful Einstein Bros., and now with his role at Caravan.
During the merger between AIC and Caravan, Savelli and his team worked through challenges at many levels. Mergers are typically difficult, he notes. Each faction brings a strong culture and a lot of pride. “That gives so many people an opportunity to create, from this legacy, a better company,” he adds. And Savelli has been leading the charge.
From Savelli's standpoint, the biggest challenge for his company is alignment. “I'm a big proponent of accountability. Without strategic alignment, people will not feel entrepreneurial,” he says. In order to encourage his employees to pursue this strategy, Savelli conducts town hall meetings 16 times per year.
Savelli's pursuit of alignment goes beyond corporate strategy. Working toward aligning consumer insight with consumer belief has helped Caravan improve the R&D work and the service it does for its customers. Savelli has taken the company from a sales-driven organization to a market-driven one that provides consumer insight for its customers.
Robb MacKie, president and C.E.O., American Bakers Association (ABA), is recognized as a leader in the Washington, D.C. business community, where he serves as the baking industry's chief advocate.
MacKie was instrumental in gathering the baking industry together for the Band of Brothers & Allied Forces March on Washington to address the commodity crisis.
“Walking the Washington power corridors with Fortune 500 companies side by side with retail bakers and our very supportive supplier partners is an image I will never forget,” MacKie says. “While we didn't reap immediate policy gains, we have been able to achieve many of our policy priorities since then.”
For instance, ABA succeeded in getting Congress to pressure the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to limit index fund speculation.
MacKie also has played a key role in encouraging more of a collaborative approach between various baking industry associations. “We talk about the alphabet soup that comprises the industry's organizations, each with their own missions. But we are working very smoothly and collectively like never before,” he says. “All of these accomplishments take the determination, vision and leadership of the industry as well as the incredibly talented and dedicated ABA professional staff. I feel incredibly fortunate to work alongside these amazing people.”
Kerwin Brown, president/C.E.O., BEMA and executive director, American Society of Baking (ASB), enjoys bringing people together and creating value through his role in the organizations.
“When members of BEMA or ASB walk away from one of our meetings or events and talk about an exceptional speaker or making a new contact, I get charged,” Brown says. “I'm in the business of providing value to my members through networking and education.”
He has worked hard to improve the collaboration between baking industry associations, including ABA, AIB, ASB and BEMA, among others, which were at one time not as connected as they are today. “The recent announcement of the Sanitation Design Workshop, which is sponsored by nine leading food associations, is the product of strong relationships amongst the leadership of these organizations,” Brown says.
Brown continuously works toward encouraging members to engage in committees and conferences, which requires putting together superior education, training and networking events on his part, and that of his organizations. Maintaining an aspect of relevancy also is critical.
“I have to continually stay connected to my members, so I know what they need,” Brown says. “That is the only way an association can continue to add value and thus stay relevant.”
Russ Bundy, C.E.O., Bundy Baking Solutions and founder, The Bundy Museum of the Baking Arts, applied his passion for the baking industry and his entrepreneurial spirit into building his company into what it is today.
Bundy Baking Solutions includes Russell T. Bundy Associates Inc., the leading remanufacturer of commercial baking equipment and supplier of used baking pans; Pan-Glo, offering superior silicone coatings and pan maintenance services to commercial bakers throughout North America and Mexico; American Pan Co., the premier commercial baking pan manufacturer; and DuraShield, which offers a revolutionary flouropolymer pan coating applicable to both bakeware and cookware.
Bundy values the employees in his companies and the quality of work they produce. And he is grateful that his family also is dedicated and commited to the baking industry.
Part of Bundy's passion for the baking industry goes well beyond that for which his company is known. His collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts can be found in The Bundy Museum of the Baking Arts, located in Urbana, Ohio. This collection is not only a tribute to what Bundy describes as “an American Institution,” but represents the respect he has had for an industry he has served for more than 40 years.
Betsy Faga, president, North American Millers Association (NAMA), Washington, D.C., and chairman of the Wheat Foods Council, has helped unite millers, suppliers and bakers in the common interest of promoting consumption of grain-based foods.
“I am most proud of the milling industry's collaboration with the baking industry to address the decline in the consumption of grain-based foods that was caused, in large part, by the Atkins diet,” Faga says. “The two industries and our allied partners created the Grain Foods Foundation in 2004, and have committed approximately $4 million a year to conduct a public relations campaign around the benefits of including grain-based foods in a healthy diet.”
And, grain consumption is now on the rise.
“It has been my sincere pleasure to work closely with Betsy Faga to achieve common goals for our industry,” says Robb MacKie, president and C.E.O., ABA. “Behind her quiet and thoughtful demeanor lies a steely purpose and determination that has served her members and the grain based food industry well.”
John Popp, president, Aunt Millie's Bakeries, Fort Wayne, Ind., and immediate past-chairman, Independent Bakers Association (IBA), worked diligently toward lobbying policymakers to implement legislation that benefited the baking industry.
“His attention to commodity funds…[burst] the wheat price bubble the industry experienced in 2008,” says Nicholas Pyle, president, IBA. “Previously, he led IBA's effort to reopen the ‘bakery partnership’ with EPA on mixer cooling gas changeovers. John Popp's efforts on both measures saved the baking industry millions of dollars.”
Yet Popp worries that much of the effort by IBA and ABA in setting a pro-industry agenda on the Hill is threatened by our current government.
“Clean air regulations and card check legislation are examples of obstacles we had to overcome in the last 10 years by strenuous lobbying efforts…and [congressional elections],” Popp says. “We are now faced with even more draconian proposals from Congress and the Executive Branch that will have dire consequences to our industry and nation unless we can stop them.”
Jim Nolan, C.E.O., Sara Lee Fresh Bakery; executive vice president, Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill.; and ABA board member, works for a consumer product goods manufacturer that produces an array of innovative and consumer trusted food, beverage, household and body care brands. Yet, Sara Lee's bakery brands outwardly remain standouts among the company's vast portfolio.
Sara Lee's continued focus on introducing more nutrient dense products to the Fresh Bakery category, including its number one selling bread brand product, Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread is the accomplishment Nolan is most proud of. In fact, Sara Lee was the first to market a white bread made with a partial blend of whole grain flour that would appeal to white bread consumers. Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread has become the best-selling loaf of bread in America since its launch in July 2005, according to syndicated sales data.
Sara Lee Fresh Bakery's accomplishments are seemingly reflected in Nolan's approach to countering old ways of thinking. He finds that “solutions are centered around leading people to challenge standard practices to find a more efficient and effective way to reach the end goal, despite unforeseen obstacles.”
Ron Jones, chairman, Dawn Food Products Inc., Jackson, Mich., and several members of his family participate in ownership of a company that has maintained its people- and customer-oriented focus since its inception. “Jones sets an example in leadership in the ways he treats his fellow man,” says Michael Dunn, foodservice sales, Dawn Foods.
“I am most proud of helping to build the Dawn culture that sincerely values people as the foundation of our company,” Jones says. “In support of this philosophy, Dawn developed the Circle of Excellence that features People, Products and Customers. It is not an accident that people are at the top,” Jones adds. “Our simple philosophy has been instrumental in building our success for nearly 90 years.”
Jones daughter, Carrie Jones-Barber, became C.E.O. a few years ago, thereby passing leadership on to a third generation of the family. And a fourth generation also is involved in shaping Dawn's future. “I firmly believe that as a people-focused, family-owned company, Dawn has a unique advantage,” Jones says.
Dawn has grown from a regional supplier with $27 million in sales in 1982 to become a global leader, supplying bakery mixes, icings, fillings and frozen products. The company remains a trusted manufacturer for its customers, as it continues its expanding sales and distribution into international markets.
Lee Sanders, senior vice president, Government Relations & Public Affairs, and corporate secretary, ABA, represents the baking industry before Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures and international policy-making bodies. She advises association members on critical legislative and regulatory issues, while serving as an industry spokesperson. Lee also serves as chairman of ASB's Scientific Advisory Committee and secretary-treasurer of the Society of Bakery Women.
Among Lee's many contributions to the industry, which includes establishing voluntary guidance for shelf-stable pumpkin pie and FDA agreement on ABA's Industry Guidance on the Use of Potassium Bromate, she is most proud of the ABA's successful Band of Bakers March campaign.
“In leading the ABA Government Relations Team through this assertive new approach, ABA has become even more respected in policy circles and has established itself as the go to source on both sides of the aisle, where before, we often did not venture,” Lee says.
Although getting a diverse industry to reach a consensus position on policy can be challenging, Lee feels ABA's successful committee process for reaching consensus positions on such issues makes it one of the most effective organizations in D.C. “When we go talk to policy makers, we can be confident that all of our members are 100 percent behind us,” Lee says.
Howard (Robin) Alton III, president and C.E.O., Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., and ABA board of directors, also served as chairman of the IBA. His association with the IBA, ABA and W.E. Long Co. has helped align various baking organizations to work toward the common good.
Alton is well aware of the complexities of the industry and how they can affect his business as well as that of his fellow bakers, which is one of the many reasons he has become entrenched in the associations that ultimately have the ability to influence legislative policy. Alton includes manufacturing, commodity hedging, wholesale, retail, marketing, warehousing, sales and trucking among the many issues bakers face, not to mention state and federal regulations.
“These complexities keep the industry interesting and exciting, while creating new obstacles and opportunities daily,” Alton says.
Margaret Hamburg, M.D., FDA Commissioner, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in May to become the 21st head of U.S. Food and Drugs. Upon Dr. Hamburg's confirmation, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised her as “an inspiring public health leader with broad experience in infectious disease, bioterrorism and healthy policy.”
Aside from her vast experience in public health, Hamburg's impact on the baking industry will be felt in the arena of food safety. In fact, changes are already afoot.
Legislation granting the FDA new powers would require the agency to step up inspections of food facilities. The measure also would give the agency authority to recall products on its own, instead of relying on industry cooperation.
Unfortunately, the FDA's broader reach will be financed by facility fees leveraged on bakers and other food manufacturers.
Judi Adams, MS, RD, president, Grain Foods Foundation, Ridgway, Colo., and her organization — a joint venture between the bakers, millers and allieds — have done more to spread the word about the healthful benefits of grain consumption than most anyone in the baking industry.
At a time when the nutrition debate has taken center stage on the public agenda with often conflicting and suspect nutritional advice, fact-based information and common sense are desperately needed, Adams notes. The Foundation is committed to nutrition education programming that is firmly rooted in sound science.
“Through my work as a dietitian at the ND Wheat Commission, Wheat Foods Council and now Grain Foods Foundation, I believe I have helped elevate the public's awareness of the important contributions our products make in a healthful diet,” Adams says.
Kenneth “Chip” Klosterman, president, Klosterman Baking Co., Cincinnati, and Chairman, ABA, has lead the growth of his family-owned business for the past 17 years — growth that now includes four plants, 10 distribution centers and millions of satisfied customers.
“As chairman of ABA, Klosterman has accomplished a lot, but nothing more important than pushing ABA to establish clear policy priorities and a strategic development process that will be his legacy,” says Robb MacKie, president and C.E.O., ABA. “His energy and drive to make the industry stronger and more effective have been focused and boundless. This has positioned ABA to be more effective in the current challenging political and economic climate.”
“Getting the message out” is one of Klosterman's key objectives for the ABA. By helping to align industry suppliers, customers and related associations, he feels all parties are speaking with one voice. “This has led to hundreds of visits and thousands of letters to our legislators and regulators, resulting in real changes to legislation,” Klosterman says. “Overall, we have greatly increased our visibility and footprint on Capitol Hill.”
MacKie gives Klosterman much credit for serving as ambassador for the baking industry and strategically helping to raise the industry profile in a time of limited resources.
Renato (Ron) Turano, owner and C.E.O., Turano Baking Co., Berwyn, Ill., and immediate past-chairman, ABA, is leading his company's expansion beyond the borders of Illinois — preparing the next generation of family members to grow the business. Turano Georgia Bread opened its doors this past year, and is equipped to manufacture millions of pounds of bread annually.
But Turano's influence goes well beyond his family's business. As immediate-past chairman of ABA, he was instrumental in encouraging more than 80 bakers to band together and march on Capitol Hill, lobbying for a relief to the commodity crisis affecting wheat. The ABA and its Band of Bakers and Allieds visited with more than 45 members of Congress, the Secretary of Agriculture and his senior staff, and key White House policy officials to urge immediate action on ABA's Three Point Plan, including early release of non-environmentally sensitive CRP acreage; elimination of the ethanol import tariff and temporarily waiving ethanol production limits; and a USDA review of wheat export policies.
Even after the march on Washington, Turano encouraged ABA members to continue their lobbying efforts by writing letters, making calls and visiting members of Congress. Turano's legacy of giving the baking industry a voice on Capitol Hill can still be heard today.
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, is the first female to serve as chairman in the committee's 184-year history.
Known as a moderate Democrat, she helped form the Moderate Dems Working Group, a new coalition of moderate Senate Democrats who work with the Senate leadership and the administration to craft common-sense solutions to our nation's most pressing priorities. She also is known as a fierce proponent of production agriculture, and is mindful of policies that have the potential to cost the baking industry, as well as other trades, significant financial setbacks.
For instance, in one of her first speeches since being named chairman in September, Senator Lincoln expressed her opposition to the cap-and-trade legislation. Bakers and allieds alike fear the burden this legislation will place on their respective businesses.
“Senator Lincoln has been a leader and friend to ABA since coming to Washington,” says Robb MacKie, ABA's president and C.E.O. “She understands the challenges of the food industry and is not shy about standing up for us, even on some of the most controversial issues of the day. She will bring an enormous intellect and the admiration of her colleagues to her new role as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.”
George Dunbar has more than 47 years of experience in the wholesale baking industry. He began Dunbar Systems 27 years ago after recognizing that there was a space in the market for wholesale bakers to bring their own ideas to bear in developing, installing and maintaining baking systems.
Since the company's inception in 1982, Dunbar has completed more than 1,200 implementations ranging from targeted, concentrated systems to full production lines. Dunbar formulates solutions with capable strategic analysis based on years of experience. He moves forward armed with strong planning and design experience, leveraging valuable partnerships in equipment manufacturing. He closely manages the implementation schedule as well as project changes, quality assurance and system documentation.
The job isn't finished at implementation though. Dunbar ensures his clients are well-versed in system operations and conducts extensive training to make sure the system opertaes smoothly. Much has changed in the industry over the past quarter of a century, but the company's stated goal remains the same. Dunbar aims to deliver the highest quality planning and design engineering expertise with state-of-the-art equipment and controls technology in order to achieve cost and process efficiencies.
Jim Munyon, president and C.E.O., AIB International, Manhattan, Kan., brings more than 28 years of experience in the food industry, ranging from plant supervisor to president of a $1.3 billion food organization. He has had responsibility for manufacturing, quality assurance, research and development, strategic planning, joint venture management, international development and marketing and sales during his career, and is thus well equipped to lead an institution that not only educates so many people throughout the baking industry, but helps protect the safety of the industry's food supply chain.
AIB works closely with local grain science and trade organizations, and maintains working relationships with many other food production and equipment, food safety, trade development and food legislation groups, as well as university food science research programs both in the United States and abroad.
Munyon is a key driver in upholding AIB's mission to protect the safety of the food supply chain and deliver high value technical and educational programs. Through independent inspections, audits, training and shared expertise the organization empowers its clients to lower their business risk and strengthen their reputations.
In addition, Munyon and his staff serve as valuable resources for bakers concerns regarding food safety, sanitation and the growing need for food defense programs.
Charles Foran, president, C.H. Babb Co., Raynham, Mass., designs tunnel ovens that have made many bakeries thrive, notes Daniel Freedman, vice president, Blue Moon Bagel Café Inc., Medfield, Mass. As an American manufacturer, his designs are highly successful against the European competition, Freedman adds.
All BABBCO systems are custom-tailored to meet the individual baking needs and production demands of its customers. It is known for hands-on problem solving and innovative Babbco Hybrid Ovens. Introduced in 1991, these ovens combine different baking methods within the same oven and can be powered by a variety of fuels.
BABBCO machines are precision-engineered, using the latest CAD/CAM, CNC and high-definition laser cutting technology and top-of-the-line metal fabrication, to provide years of trouble-free operation. All modular BABBCO ovens can be pre-plumbed and pre-wired for complete assembly on-site in as little as two days. Babb also is thoroughly committed to customer service and technical support.
Foran takes great pride in his company's ability to excel in areas of innovation, such as “heat transfer; baking times, while maintaining or most often exceeding quality and consistency requirements; reduction in energy usage; and new green technology — all while continually moving toward the future.”
American Pie Council
Bundy Baking Solutions
North American Millers
Aunt Millie's Bakeries
Sara Lee Fresh Bakery
American Bakers Association
Howard (Robin) Alton III
Pan-O-Gold Baking Co.
Grain Foods Foundation
Klosterman Baking Co.
Renato (Ron) Turano
Turano Baking Co.
Senator Blanche Lincoln
C.H. Babb Co.