12 Jan BEMA Board Spotlight: Eric Riggle
Eric Riggle, President
Company: Rademaker USA, LLC
Q: What got you into the baking industry?
A: I often make the joke that I got into the industry for a 1992 Ford Taurus company car. I was selling components to a bakery machine manufacturer and when they had a sales opening I held on until they offered me a company car.
Q: Why do you love the business of baking?
A: The baking industry is personal to me. Even at the large, multi-national baking companies there is a sense of family and personal connections. In my nearly 30 years my clients and co-workers have become friends and an extension of my family. The passion that this industry demands in order to be successful is contagious. No two days or two projects are ever the same and that keeps it interesting and fun. Not once have I thought of what I do for Rademaker and our clients as a ‘job’. It is a calling and a responsibility that I take as seriously as anything else in my life. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Q: Who do you consider a mentor in the industry? Who has made an impact on your career?”
A: I have had three mentors in this industry – all clients.
The Salameh Family (owners of Bakery de France) taught me the importance of passion for bakery. It is not just a loaf of bread or a croissant but an expression of care and respect for the traditions and history of the industry. Quality is not a trend but a mission for their organization. Bob Gee former owner of Cloverhill Pastry and present owner of Pures Food Ltd, taught me about optimism and if you believe in something you can make it happen. After giving him some bad news several years back he said – “Don’t tell me no. Tell me what it takes to say yes.” His belief in his plan and his people taught me to do the same in everything I do. Yianny Caparos president of Crown Bakeries and former owner of Gold Standard Baking. I learned from Yianny how to outwork the competition. The road less paved is rarely busy so be willing to go that extra mile and take the extra step to differentiate yourself from your competition. I have watched Yianny do this time and time again on behalf of his customers and I have implemented many of his ideas and concepts into Rademaker USA.
Q: What goals do you have for your board membership tenure?
A: To diversify and expand the BEMA membership and baker base. Diversification into non- traditional bakery products and categories for sure, but more importantly to diversify by gender, ethnicity, and race. We are an amazing industry, contributed to by many different persons, races, and cultures and we need to recognize that BEMA today does not reflect that diversification in its membership. We need to recognize this and implement changes in order to represent the colorful industry that we love so much.
Q: What trend are you most excited about in the baking industry right now?
A: I honestly don’t know. It is hard to say what is a trend to me. I am most excited about all the opportunities for education and mentoring in this industry. We need to help the next one in line through mentoring and education or else this industry will continue to struggle with labor sourcing and retention. Our industry is not an easy one to simply read about in a book. The fact that there is no resource for educating a bakery workforce is baffling to me. We must recognize that if we fail to cultivate and educate a sustainable workforce then we will fail to make this industry all that it can be. I am excited by educational offerings such as our Rademaker Academy and BEMA U – programs that focus on education in a professional manner for long term results.
Q: What was your favorite baked good as a kid, and now?
A: As a kid I loved donuts. Every Saturday morning my dad would take me to Daily Donuts in Cincinnati, Ohio and I would pick out a donut to eat while we picked out a dozen to bring home to my mom, sister, and brother.
Today I am obsessed with breads produced in the traditional manner of long, slow preferments. Really good artisan bread has a smell and texture that makes the best meal even better.
However, I still love a donut right out of the fryer…..