Thought Leadership: Inspiration Found In the Baking Industry

kelly allen

The baking industry provides experiences that leave a lasting impression. The opening moments of the show floor at IBIE: spectacular. The one-of-a-kind connections that are created at BEMA’s conventions: memorable. The details of mass food production learned during a plant tour:  amazing.

The level of care demonstrated by companies in the baking industry for communities around the world: inspiring.

From diversity and inclusion initiatives to supporting local youth sports teams to providing large donations for The Women’s Bakery, the baking industry never fails to inspire with its generosity and care for the community and world around it.

During the Chairman’s celebration last June, a few members made generous financial pledges to The Women’s Bakery…then more hands went up…and more hands went up as the donations rolled in. The result was an outpouring of support from the baking industry that yielded over $100,000.  There was something special in the room, and it was indeed inspiring.

But that care and inspiration isn’t a limited, one-time event. It’s a way of life for our members.

At the recent NEXT Conference, Killian Lapeyre, Business Unit Manager at Intralox said, “We believe business to be a noble pursuit and can think of no higher calling than the business of creating safe food.”

As BEMA’s membership manager, I have the privilege of working side-by-side with our member companies as they pursue that calling. I learn not only about their businesses but about their communities and their care projects.

And in talking with members of our baking community, I’ve found plenty to be inspired by.


Focusing on Diversity

Design firm A M King is taking the lead on diversity and inclusion issues. A M King’s Design Leader, Catherine Knight, is making a difference in the architectural community as the 2023-2024 Equity Director for the American Institute of Architects South Carolina.

Her role puts A M King at the forefront of making sure there’s a place for everyone in the world of architecture and design.

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Providing a Helping Hand

Baking equipment manufacturer Rademaker inspires others through its collaboration with The Women’s Bakery, an organization that teaches women baking skills and provides equipment for them to open their own bakeries in East Africa. The initiative provides women with the opportunity to own and run their own businesses while also providing nutritious, low-cost food for their communities. It’s a win-win.

“I believe it is our obligation as people on this earth to take care of and help each other as a result of the help we have been given,” said Eric Riggle, president of Rademaker USA. “The smallest gestures are more valuable than the greatest of intentions, so don’t overthink or underestimate your ability to help someone.”

That commitment to helping others carries over into his leadership at Rademaker.

“My philosophy and what I try to instill at Rademaker is to be the light that you want to see in the world,” he said. “You never know where the next great idea will come from, and that person you help today will pay that help forward for generations to come.”

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Fighting Hunger and Supporting Families

AMF Bakery Systems encourages its team members to find ways to help in the community and places an emphasis on providing food for the hungry and supporting families with sick children. AMF uses annual food packaging events like Stop Hunger Now and Feed the Funnel to help fight hunger around the world.

In addition, AMF provides donations and volunteers to the Ronald McDonald House to help families stay together as they support their sick child.

BEMA-Colors-Separator-Line-1-1536x10Caring for the Community

Automation specialist JLS makes giving back to the community a priority. Through relationships with local and national organizations, JLS provides support for a variety of initiatives – from The Women’s Bakery to local youth sports teams to programs aimed at developing the next generation of business leaders.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the baking industry, both financially and by serving,” said president and CEO Craig Souser. “JLS has been involved with the baking industry for a number of years, and our overall growth is largely due to our success in the baking industry. You can’t just take; you need to give and, in this case, give back. It’s a great industry, and it’s on us as business leaders to make it great for the future.”

Involving the Whole Team

Bakery equipment manufacturer Gemini also has a long-standing relationship providing support to the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, each quarter they let employees choose an organization to support. Those organizations have included Alex’s Lemonade Stand, America’s VetDogs, the Epilepsy Foundation, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Each quarter, Gemini donates an initial $250 then matches employee donations up to $500, ensuring that causes that are important to their team members are supported by the company.

Looking at this short list of just some of the ways our members support and invest in their communities tells you a lot about the hearts of those who work in the baking industry. It’s an industry where the people know that it’s not just about what you can make. It’s also about what you can give.

And that’s definitely inspiring.

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