CEO Insights: The Power Of Collaboration


The Power Of Collaboration

This year’s Labor Day holiday offered a grateful comparison to acknowledge our progress over the past year and a moment to pause amid the whirlwind of the past eight months of 2021. The holiday also served as a reminder of just how far we’ve come thanks to the efforts of the nearly 800,000 baking industry workers.

Thinking about our industry’s collective efforts places a spotlight on the importance of a top-down, bottom-up effort. But the reality of constructing such a concept in real time and in real life isn’t so straightforward.

In good times and in bad times we’ve seen this in action, and I think most would agree that in the moment there was no long-term plan. Instead, we thrived by focusing on the day-to-day and knowing things will get done through teamwork and persistence.


Collaborative Efforts

Early in the pandemic, we saw collaboration on many levels. Manufacturers shifted into high gear and there were incredible efforts from the industry’s frontline workers who kept the bakeries running 24/7 to keep up with panic buying and supply chain shortages.

During our virtual roundtables, we heard many examples of how our members were working together to keep the supply chain up and running. This included supplying equipment, ingredients and providing support to keep business moving forward and frontline workers safe during an incredibly challenging and critical time.

Other efforts included providing meals for health care workers and first responders to support our friends in foodservice and then later we had the pleasure of seeing these categories rebound to reach pre-pandemic levels around March-April of this year.

At Convention, bakers and their suppliers shared how they continue to work together to be both reactive and proactive by predicting the wave of orders driven by inventory levels. These partnerships continue to help the industry navigate the daily hurdles of ingredient shortages, supply chain interruptions and changing consumer desires.

We’ve also seen how groups like The Women’s Bakery use bread and education as a platform to anticipate the larger needs of food and financial insecurity for local communities in Rwanda, Africa.


Better Together

Out of this period of incredible ups and downs, we continue to see what can happen when individuals are tasked with ensuring the needs of others remain the highest priority – the very definition of servant leadership. Over these past 18 months and counting, we’ve seen what’s possible when we’re pushed outside the bounds of what we know and what is comfortable.

In the moment, I think these actions and decisions are driven by heart and by instinct and are further intensified by the open exchange of ideas. This is something our industry continues to excel at from working together to communicate long lead times to looking for new ways to mitigate supply chain, logistics and transportation issues.

The spontaneous act of sharing serendipitous ideas allows us to consider what’s possible, something that is further strengthened when we’re asking questions, sharing ideas and learning from each other. These are the kind of exchanges that encourage us to ‘shoot for the moon.’

Looking ahead, I believe this emphasis on education and awareness will not only help us anticipate immediate needs but will also play a foundational role in what’s is possible years from now.

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