The Swiss Colony Bakery Surges Ahead
By Vanita Baumgartner
Never in my wildest dreams did I think the last few months of my career at The ONE AND ONLY Colony Brands would be spent examining every process used in the Bakery from top to bottom due to concerns related to a global pandemic. I’m certain that I have never even used the word “pandemic” in my 24-year career.
Food and employee safety are our most important priorities and we work on processes to achieve the utmost safety every day. We do annual mock exercises on emergency planning. But never did anyone think to suggest that we should plan for a global pandemic!
The Bakery has over 100 employees on each shift in a 134,000 square foot facility with eight manufacturing lines and numerous pieces of food processing equipment throughout the facility. So how exactly do you protect all of this from a threat you cannot see, hear, smell, touch, or taste? The edict presented to us by authorities such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and our nation’s government was “Social Distancing”. While this is a simple concept in many situations, it is extremely difficult and nearly impossible to execute on a shop floor built on teamwork and partnering to get the job done. But we have executed it wherever possible. Also, our exceptional safety team and bakery management team have diligently mapped out locations to install temporary barriers and curtains that will provide separation of social space when we cannot keep a safe physical distance from each other.
People are social and typically don’t choose isolation. It’s healthy to chat, share, commiserate and bounce things off our co-workers and friends. So social separation took a while to adapt to. But our Bakery team rallied knowing that this is what must be done in order to continue to meet our customers’ expectations and provide them with special treats for their special occasions and traditions. Take our butter toffee – our flagship item that many people NEED to round out their holiday season. We make a lot of it, we ship a lot of it and we eat a lot of it. Making this addictive treat requires precision and close contact with teammates. Several bakers work together in a small space using the mentality of a NASCAR pit crew to crank out this heavenly morsel by the thousands – from a kettle of 300-degree Fahrenheit molten sugar lava. We will not disappoint our devoted customers during the holidays. When faced with challenges, global or not, finding solutions to make the products that our customers want in a safe and delicious manner will always be our objective. We will get through this together to keep providing everyone’s favorite treats and helping them make special memories.
Even though I’m retiring, you can be certain I’ll be cheering on this company for the rest of my years. We have been extremely fortunate to have amazing leaders on our executive team. I am confident this company will prevail stronger and more solid than ever. There will be prosperous times ahead and the journey is always worth it. To our entire executive team and leaders past and present – you all have my highest regard, my total respect, and my complete admiration for tackling what I see as the most significant threat our company has ever faced. Go Colony Brands!