Baking & Snack - May 2018 - 42
MILLER BAKING CO.
did whatever we had to do to get the product out." Since
then, the company has increased its efficiency by strategically planning each day, week or month.
Cultivating a culture
Dough balls are run
through a caustic bath to
give the finished product
the classic pretzel sheen.
As the Pretzilla brand took off and Miller Baking Co.
grew to meet demand, Mr. Miller had to expand his
staff, particularly the management team. Previously, he
had his hand in everything. "Until 2014, if you looked
at an organizational chart of our business, my name
filled every box," he said. Learning to trust other people
to have the company's best interest in mind was a lesson Mr. Miller had to learn. "If you want to build a team,
you can't continue to own those boxes ... not if you want
good people to stay," he continued.
Mr. Miller thought hard about what he wanted the
company to be going forward and surrounded himself
with a team that shared his commitment to quality and
service - those values instilled in him and passed down
to the rest of the team. "People who come to work here
find out quickly that we do things with the customer
in mind, sometimes a little too much," Mr. Miller said.
"There are decisions that are made that might not be a
good business decision, but from a quality and service
standpoint, it's the right decision. We don't cut corners
for the sake of a margin."
This dedication to quality and service informed the
company's core values as well: stability, going the extra
mile, curiosity and humility. "Everyone can say 'customer service,' but customer service might mean fixing the
problem tomorrow," Mr. Miller explained. "Going the
extra mile means we're going to fix it right now. That's
important to our culture."
Even with the guiding light of his father's principles,
42 Baking & Snack May 2018 / www.bakingandsnack.com
"If you want to build a team,
you can't continue to own
those boxes ... not if you
want good people to stay."
Brian Miller, Milling Baking Co.
arriving at these four values did not happen overnight.
Neither did adapting his staff to the demands of the
new direction. Miller Baking Co.'s original management
team, formed in 2014, came to Mr. Miller with core
values that included words such as "customer service"
and "trust" - which didn't really resonate with him. "I
wanted values that were really going to move the needle.
Trust isn't going to move the needle," he explained. "If
you don't have trust, you're not going to have a company
period. But being curious isn't something people talk a
lot about. We push each other to ask 'Why do we do it
that way?' "
Mr. Miller started from scratch and hired a new management team, populated with people who inspired him
and he enjoyed working with. "These are people who are
critical thinkers, are curious and understand what our
customers' needs are," he said.
Growing pains existed on the plant floor as well. New
equipment meant more training and required a new
skillset, and as every commercial bakery knows, finding
quality employees to work on a plant floor is a struggle.
Finding the right people, especially for leadership positions, was a challenge. "I kissed a lot of frogs," Mr. Miller
said. "I didn't get it right the first or second and some-