Baking & Snack - August 2020 - 83

OPERATIONS
Process Flexibility

as you goo
T

Remaining efficient while maintaining flexibility is
possible ... just follow some simple rules.

by Joanie Spencer

The best bakery operators aren't afraid of a challenge.
And the most successful businesses overcome them, often while making it look easy. So, what's their secret? It's
the ability to remain flexible in the face of adversity, and
some bakers have great advice on how to do just that.
"We get a lot of challenging opportunities, and with
that, we have a team of people who are very versatile,"
said Mike Kemper, founder and chief executive officer,
Kemper Foods International, New Albany, Ind. "We have
no choice but to be flexible. That's the arena we play in."
Over the years, that's the reputation Kemper Foods
has built for itself as the place to go when you have a
project that otherwise can't be done.
During the past several months, bakers had to shift
their production to accommodate for drastic changes in
the marketplace caused by foodservice shutdowns and
panic-buying in the grocery stores. It has truly been survival of the fittest.
But getting there isn't impossible. You just need to
have a few tricks up your sleeve.

Have a strong foundation
Versatility must begin with two key elements: a strong
workforce and a solid infrastructure.
At Schaumburg, Ill.-based Gonnella Baking's plant
in Aurora, Ill., Plant Manager Daniel Banks relies on a
highly experienced union workforce and a large, stateof-the-art facility.

"It helps to have a company that has the financial resources to bring to bear those opportunities that might
take a quick-turn CapEx or something of that nature to
take advantage of it," he said.
For example, Gonnella had to make some adjustments
for a convenience store customer that wanted a mini hot
dog product. The bakery invested in a new board to incorporate into its production line that already included
AMF Bakery Systems Accupanners, Reiser and AMF dividers, and mixers from Shaffer, a Bundy Baking Solution.
In short, having the right basic industry equipment
allows other components to be introduced and quickly
take on the extra production.
This has made life a little more manageable during the
coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
"It wasn't as bad as it could've been," Mr. Banks said.
"We were very fortunate at this plant - it was a combination of luck and having the right controls put in
place - but we never had any major shutdown issues in
four months."
At Kemper Foods, it has been business as usual during
the pandemic. Mr. Kemper attributes that to the company's operational foundation and business philosophy.
"We may not be the largest, but we do have a reputation of being the fastest while maintaining food safety,
quality and consistency," he said. "We've had opportunities in the past four to six weeks with customers saying,
'Can you get me something that's ready-to-eat, grab-

When versatility
is inherent in the
operation, a bakery
plant can not only jump
on any new opportunity
but also quickly shift
in times of crisis.
┬ęBryan Moberly Photography

www.bakingbusiness.com / August 2020 Baking & Snack 83


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Baking & Snack - August 2020

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