Q&A with Bake’n Joy VP of HR, Beth Bursey

Bake’n Joy, started in 1941, is a 3rd generation family-owned business with a commitment to provide top-quality dry mixes and superior customer service to local bakers. Over the past 77 years, this Massachusetts company has kept pace with changing customer needs. Its product line has grown through product development and company acquisition to include dry mixes, frozen batters and baked goods and it now sells to bakers of all sizes, institutions, grocers and foodservice firms across the country.

A customer-and-employee-centric culture prevails and drives all business decisions. As one employee explains with a wink, “I’d like to come back as a customer of Bake’n Joy.” Given that Bake’n Joy does not manage talent through layoffs, employee longevity is a hallmark of the family business, and it’s clear that people value working at the company.

Beth Bursey was hired in the fall of 2017 as senior business partner to the President & CEO Robert Ogan and his team to support the company’s plans for major growth, building on the success of 154% growth since 2007.

Gatti: How are you bringing about change in a company with a well-established and revered culture?

Bursey: My focus is on fixing and evolving processes to better support the wonderful culture we have in place. Here’s a tangible example: historically, the company has employed temporary factory workers to handle seasonal demand and new product lines before it has clarity on long-term needs. Many new hires in manufacturing start as temps. The practice of hiring temp to full time has been in place for a number of years. When I arrived, Bake’n Joy worked with 10 different temp agencies. To streamline the process and save money, I negotiated a Master Vendor Program with one agency that handles all aspects of the sourcing, evaluating, hiring and onboarding of our factory workers.

Another example: the company has traditionally given all employees an end-of-the-year profit-sharing bonus. Currently, we are evaluating the structure of the frequency in order to create an even stronger sense of personal responsibility to the success of our customers and our business.

Gatti: What do you see as a major management challenge in the years ahead?

Bursey:  While the third generation Ogan is CEO, we are fortunate to have the fourth generation Ogan “in the house.”  Many of Bake’n Joy’s senior leaders have been at the company for 20+ years. Consequently, we expect a few key retirements over the next 5 years. Although the volume of hires we will need in these management positions is much lower than our needs in manufacturing and maintenance, it is critical that we have succession plans in place and hire leaders with the head and heart for this company. The Ogans recognize that culture starts from the top. Empathy for customers and co-workers is a non-negotiable. In fact, one of my first deliverables on the job was the development of a video to showcase the existing culture with current and future employees.

Gatti:  What advice do you have for HR professionals evaluating job opportunities?

Bursey: When I accepted the job with Bake’n Joy, I had two other offers. Colleagues were surprised that I wasn’t joining another financial services or high-tech business given their perception that these industries had more cachet than a manufacturing company. But, Bake’n Joy is a company where culture is paramount and what better opportunity for an HR professional than to work in an organization that recognizes the value of culture in driving business success. So, my advice: look at every opportunity and evaluate each holistically.  What challenge are you looking for?  What value do you place on being a steward of an enduring culture that truly prioritizes collaboration on behalf of customers?  At the end of day, it is important to be honest with yourself and resolve what you value most.  My advice for is for HR professionals is to find a company that fits your values and allows you to contribute the best of what you have to offer!