Baking & Snack - August 2020 - 28

CUSTOM FOODS

Mr. Hart, who began with the bakery first as an engineering consultant and then vice president of engineering before assuming the role of president nearly two years ago.
After Custom Foods completed a 30,000-square-foot
expansion of its facility, the bakery took its frozen bread
production far outside the reaches of foodservice.
"Custom Foods was supporting a wide variety of clients prior to the expansion," Mr. Hart said. "But that
gave us the ability to grow with them. The expansion
also allowed Custom Foods to delve into new product
groups we had never experimented with before."
The bakery worked on several different product varieties until it carved out a niche in the frozen sector.
Today, in the 48,000-square-foot, SQF-certified facility,
Custom Foods makes more than 200 SKUs on seven
production lines for about 50 different customers.
The bakery has a philosophy in how it goes to market: It's battleship vs. destroyer, and Custom Foods is
the latter.
"A lot of big frozen dough manufacturers are battleships," Mr. Hart suggested. "They have one bailiwick,
one thing they can do very well, and Custom Foods can
do a lot of different things very well. We navigate very
easily in the frozen food and bakery community to constantly do new and exciting things."
When identifying new opportunities, Custom Foods
identifies gaps in the industry, and if they're in the bakery's wheelhouse, the destroyer goes after them.
"We just need to get a plan of action, figure out what
the equipment needs are, how our capabilities measure
up and how much training is involved," Mr. Hart explained. "Then we grab it."
During the past few years, creating new opportunities
was the key to not only survival but also growth in a year
when bakeries supplying foodservice outlets have taken
losses as great as 75%.
"It helped us when we went through those first two
or three months of the pandemic," said Mike Hurt, national sales director. "Because we've got a good chunk
of business allocated toward grocery stores through private label co-manufacturing, and because we have some
convenience store business, we were able to solidify the
ground, so to speak, for a couple of months."
Getting into multiple channels with a wide variety of
product capability has allowed Custom Foods to look at
the bakery landscape through a strategic lens. For example, the company broke into the pizza market a few years
ago after identifying it as one of those industry gaps.
Serendipitously, pizza has emerged as one of the greatTop: Bulk flour is pneumatically conveyed to the mixer; specialty flours for
custom formulas are added by hand.
Bottom: An inductive sensor reads dough levels in the hopper to keep
production in motion.
28 Baking & Snack August 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com


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