Natural Ovens Bakery, Manitowoc, Wis., shuttered the doors at its Valparaiso, Ind., plant and appointed a new senior management team to direct the company’s future. As a result, the bakery’s owners, Paul and Barbara Stitt, will stop overseeing day-to-day operations of the bakery. However, they will retain their ownership of the bakery.
"Like all bakeries, we have struggled with consumer trends that have negatively impacted sales," Paul Stitt said in a letter written to the bakery’s customers. "While our products are unsurpassed in quality, nutrition and taste, those advantages have not been enough to avert some difficult business decisions."
Natural Ovens built the 60,000-sq.-ft. Valparaiso facility in 2004. The domed plant contains one automated bread line and various semi-automated lines that produce bagels, muffins and cookies.
Despite the closing, the company said its product line is still available through the same sales channel. These products are produced out of the company’s Manitowoc facility.
The new senior management team consists of Chelle Blaszczyk, Matt Taylor, Glen Hietpas, George Douglas, John Bialozynski, Marie Feiter, Johnna Hochkammer and Karen Jones. This management team’s first chore is hiring a chief executive officer.
Although the Stitts have removed themselves from the bakery’s operations, they said it is not their intention to sell the company. "We are unequivocally opposed to the compromise that would require," the Stitts said. "We will not waiver in our commitment to what we stand for or what we have built here."
Paul Stitt founded Natural Ovens in 1976. The company produces an array of healthful bakery foods, including breads, bagels, muffins and cookies.