12 Jan BEMA Board Spotlight: Mike Pierce
Mike Pierce, President
Company: The Austin Company
Q: What got you into the baking industry?
A: Designing and building bakeries for companies like George Weston, Bimbo USA and Pepperidge Farm, and getting to know leaders like Jim Kline, Dave Watson and Ramon Rivera.
Q: Why do you love the business of baking?
A: The culture of the industry is wholesome. It’s great people, good people, making a product that everyone relates to on a daily basis. There is a sense of community and kindness in baking that is unique. We work in many different industries, from aerospace to pharmaceuticals and more- even within the food industry, baking is unique in its culture.
Q: Who do you consider a mentor in the industry? Who has made an impact on your career?
A: Jim Kline, when he was with George Weston, was the catalyst for getting me involved in BEMA, and therefore set a foundation for my involvement in baking. There are so many paths our work and careers can take us. My experience with baking and in getting involved in BEMA has given me exposure to great leaders both in BEMA and with bakers that has impacted my leadership style.
Q: What goals do you have for your board membership tenure?
A: Compared to many others on BEMA’s board, I am more of a generalist. I want to see that BEMA’s vision and long term goals are aligned, sustainable, well defined, communicated and the filter through which the organization’s decisions are made.
Q: What trend are you most excited about in the baking industry right now?
A: While there is a lot of consolidation going on right now, new bakers who are making an impact on the baking landscape are rising up (pun intended) all the time. In the time I have been coming to BEMA, there are so many new regional or specialty bakers that are growing and making an impact. Baking is proving to be a very sustainable and rewarding industry despite the many challenges it faces.
Q: What was your favorite baked good as a kid, and now?
A: As a kid, my Mom would make a crumb coffee cake for all my aunts and uncles at Christmas. It was a recipe she got from her mom. We still make it at Christmas, and at other times during the year.
Aside from that coffee cake, my favorite baked good now is an English muffin.