Can a bakery be a home? The Manderfield family certainly thinks so. They operate Manderfield’s Home Bakery with two locations in Appleton, Wis. and one in nearby Menasha. Brothers Paul, Jerry and Doug are continuing what their grandfather started in 1934 when Frank Manderfield began producing bakery products out of his home, hence the bakery’s name. Frank retired from the industry in 1964. His son Dennis along with his wife Lois had operated Best Bakery in Menasha for 16 years before selling it in 1972. After the birth of their last child, Dennis and Lois reopened Manderfield’s Home Bakery in Appleton in 1979.
Members of the Manderfield family can’t seem to get away from baking. In addition to Paul, Jerry and Doug, brother Matt also works at Manderfield’s as a baker’s assistant, brother Mike works for a national bakery supply distributor and sister Lisa and her husband run a bakery in Buffalo, N.Y.
They all have found a home in the baking industry, and the fact that home is in their bakery’s name is not something the Manderfields take lightly. It is truly a family operation where everyone feels at home. While three brothers could make for a chaotic “home,” Paul, Jerry and Doug have each found their niches in the operation, allowing the business to hum along smoothly. They shy away from assigning titles, but Paul runs production at the East location and generally makes the final decision relating to bakery business, Jerry runs production and oversees cake decorating at the bakery’s newest location and Doug manages the retail areas, sales staff and is in charge of marketing.
“With families, some personalities are stronger than others. The fact that we can survive is probably the most amazing thing,” Doug laughs. “I have to give credit to my parents, who stressed that family is the most important. If we didn’t get along outside of the bakery, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
The home concept is not just in the Manderfields’ attitude; it also has dictated the appearance of the bakeries’ facades and retail areas. The exteriors all feature pointed roofs over the front doors, making the buildings look more like houses than businesses. The retail spaces feature deep red walls and light orange ceilings with black accents in the display shelves and warm lighting.
“I love the earthy red and orange colors, and I think they complement the bakery products. With the black accents in the display racks, when you light them up, they really stand out,” Doug says. The two Appleton locations also have fireplaces to warm the retail space as well coffee/espresso bars.
To help customers know they are in a Manderfield’s bakery, all three locations set up the showcases and displays according to a merchandising map Doug created. While the order of the showcases and displays may be dictated by each store’s layout, the products are arranged within them in the same order and on the same shelf in every bakery.
Changes over time
When Modern Baking first visited Manderfield’s Home Bakery in April 1991, Dennis and Lois had just begun their eight-year succession plan to pass the bakery on to the next generation. Twenty years later, the plan was finally completed after several changes. Like many family businesses, the situations of key players changed, but Paul and Jerry are now majority stockholders. Dennis still can be found in one of the bakeries on most days; he still works up to 30 hours a week. Lois works every weekend, helping with wedding cakes.
Since 1987, Manderfield’s Home Bakery has operated two bakeries, but the locations have moved over the years. The Menasha location was built in 1996 and housed the cake department. By 2006, the bakery’s Appleton location, which produced all the yeast-raised product, was suffering from growing pains, and the brothers began looking for space to build a new location. They chose the east side of Appleton, an area that at the time did not have a lot of development. The brothers believed that if they built it, customers would come. They chose wisely as the area now features several big box stores.
When planning for new locations, the brothers like to place the store at the center of an “H,” Doug says. While the bakeries are not on a main road, they have at least two main roads near them, which give customers several access points to the bakeries.
Shortly after opening the new Appleton store, Menasha also began to outgrow its space. Demand for elaborate and truly custom designed cakes was growing. The Appleton store also had added artisan bread production, and the idea of a third bakery began percolating.
The brothers found the ideal area on the west side of Appleton near a large shopping mall, but waited several years before taking the plunge. The recession hit, dropping real estate prices and making an empty building that was available look more attractive. They usually prefer to build out their locations to their specifications, but this was a deal they couldn’t pass up.
“Even my dad, who is extremely practical with money, said we had to do it,” Doug says. Manderfield’s Home Bakery opened its third location last September and cake production was moved to the facility in October.
The brothers were able to open the third location without adding to their production or decorating teams, and only hired about 15 new sales people to staff the new location.
Production occurs in all three bakeries. Appleton West is devoted to cakes, tortes, muffins, nut breads, éclairs, cream puffs, etc. and decorating; Appleton East produces all yeast-raised products and cookies; and Menasha houses the artisan bread and roll production. “The advantages of producing in all three locations are two things: we are using all of our real estate, and we don’t have to duplicate equipment or expertise,” Jerry says.
The addition of the third location did pose some logistical problems. With two locations, it was fairly easy to truck products back and forth, but a third location requires some additional planning to make sure products get where they need to be.
Trucks start running at 3:45 a.m. to deliver products to the stores. The bakery runs four trucks in total. One starts at the West store and takes the muffins and cakes to Menasha and then continues on to the East store. Another truck starts at the East store to deliver yeast-raised products like Danish and bread to the West store and then on to Menasha. A third truck delivers artisan bread from Menasha to the East store before continuing on to the West location.
By 5 a.m., all the trucks are back at the East store, which functions as the operational hub for the business, to begin the wholesale deliveries. About two hours later, one truck continues wholesale deliveries, while two of the trucks begin another round of store deliveries. One truck runs a continuous route among the three stores. All told, each bakery gets three morning product deliveries. In the afternoon, a truck makes the rounds again to help evenly distribute the products left in the stores and deliver fried donuts so they can be iced and finished in the morning at each location before the stores’ 5:30 a.m. opening.
Every rack or box that is loaded onto the trucks has a colored sticker dot on it. Each location has a designated color, so drivers are able to easily distinguish what products need to be delivered to which bakery.
Production in the East store begins at 9:30 p.m. the night before. The bakery is in operation almost 24 hours a day. The night shift is devoted to retail production, which begins by pulling the coffeecake, Danish and other products from the freezer to bake before shifting into bread production. Most products are frozen unbaked except cookies and artisan bread, which are never frozen, and donuts, which are fried and then frozen. A second shift comes in at 7 a.m. and is devoted to production for wholesale accounts, which makes up about 25 percent of bakery sales.
Creating production consistency
Baking for the freezer has accomplished two things, Paul says. It allows for more consistent and efficient production as well as giving the bakery more flexibility in being able to pull products as they are needed daily in the stores.
Some of that production consistency is helped by the bakery’s use of mixes. About 50 percent of the products are made from mixes, including donuts, cakes, coffeecakes; 40 percent are from scratch, such as cookies, white bread and buns; and the remaining 10 percent, like turnovers and bagels, are from frozen dough. However, Paul says, the frozen dough products always feature some embellishment to make them unique to Manderfield’s.
All artisan bread products, branded Bitte Brot (German for Please Bread), are made from scratch in the Menasha location. Brad Jarvais, manager of the Menasha store and production manager for artisan breads, first visited Manderfield’s Home Bakery as an equipment sales representative shortly after the East location opened. His discussion with Paul quickly moved from the equipment he was trying to sell to his love of making artisan breads. Brad even had acquired a stone hearth oven to put in his own bakery in the future.
“Brad’s enthusiasm excited me,” Paul says. “In one day I went from ‘No, I don’t need any equipment,’ to looking where I could put his hearth oven.” That fateful visit led to Manderfield’s expansion into artisan bread.
“I knew from just talking to him what he was willing to do, and it was a win situation for both of us,” Paul adds. “You can pay people to make bakery products, but you can’t pay them to be passionate, to have that extra care–that’s priceless.”
Within a month, Brad was working at Manderfield’s where he had moved his oven, and Manderfield’s had supplied him with the other equipment he needed.
Artisan bread production begins at 9 p.m. and runs until about 6 a.m. Levains and poolishes are prepared in the afternoon and are ready by that night. Two bakers begin mixing the doughs, most of which have a one- to two-hour fermentation before shaping, proofing and baking. “We don’t do a lot of shortcuts; we try to go the long way around,” Brad says.
The bakery produces about eight to 10 doughs a day, which can be made into 120 to 130 different bread varieties. Everyday, six key breads are available with two additional varieties that alternate.
To keep up with higher-volume wholesale production, Brad and his team rely on several key pieces of equipment. “I think equipment is good if it’s used in the right application and it doesn’t harm the product or the process,” he adds. The bakery has a baguette moulder that is designed to keep the air in the dough and a dough divider that is equipped with a two-part setting that can be adjusted to retain some gas in the dough.
New cake location
At the West location, which houses cake production and decorating, staff arrives at 3:30 a.m. to finish donuts and Danish, and the first bakers arrive at 4 a.m. to begin muffins and cake layers. Cake icers begin about 6:30 a.m., and decorators report at 7 a.m. The crew produces about 200 to 250 tortes per week, 350 to 500 custom-decorated cakes as well as 12 to 15 wedding cakes. The staff also decorates all the iced cutout cookies for all three locations, which are baked and shipped from the East location.
The West store also features a wedding cake consultation room. Wedding cakes are an area the Manderfields hope to grow now that the bakery has the necessary space. At one point, the brothers had contemplated dropping wedding cakes from the product line. “But Mom, Dad and Jerry were still passionate about keeping them, so we made a choice to promote them more effectively,” Doug says.
With all the business growth in the last several years, one thing has remained constant–the bakery is the home of a family. “It’s a tribute to my parents who taught us to work together as brothers and get along,” Doug says.