Meet Rick Crawford, Managing Partner of the RPIA Group, which is planning The Business of Baking for Beginners, a first-of-its-kind seminar on October 1-2 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Schaumburg, IL. This seminar will teach aspiring bakery owners effective tricks of the trade and behind-the-scenes knowledge that only comes with extensive years of experience. The Business of Baking for Beginners seminar takes place prior to the All Things Baking 2011 Conference & Exposition, also held in Schaumburg, on Oct. 2-4.

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1. It’s a challenging world out there for retail bakers. How can the RPIA help? 

We are a clearing house for information and best practices as well as a program provider to Bakery Specific Programs. Members can and do save 1 to 100 times their annual dues.

2. Tell us more about the upcoming Business of Baking for Beginners seminar set for Oct. 1-2.

The Business of Baking for Beginners (BOB) is designed for people with 3 years or less in the industry or people just wanting to explore the industry as potential owners. We will provide some of the “Hidden” key of experience that make live much better owning and operating a Bakery.

3. The RPIA just ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal for this event. What types of people are you hoping to attract into the bakery business?

People who have the resources to invest in the industry and that have great talent, but may be in a lack of opportunity situation. Middle managers may have good annual revenue, but will never get the opportunity to create wealth. Thus the WSJ.

4. What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to start a bakery right now?

Aside from ATTEND BOB?  How about learn how to create success in this industry before you invest. 

5. Some people say the traditional retail bakery is a dying breed. What’s your response?

The key word is “Traditional.” Full line Retail Bakeries have a bright future, but they must change with and ahead of the markets. The term Traditional implies no change, and that picture is not rosy.

6. Tell us about your background. How did you get started in baking?

In 1974 I was working my way through college on the GI Bill and my Uncle, Robert Erbrich, opened two Mall Bakery Franchises.  I was his “Cookie Boy” – and store closer.  I was paid .03 cents a cookie and by hand made about 115 dozen in 5.5 hours.

7. What did you like most about running your own bakery?

I always wanted to be in business management and manage people more than things. I also felt like we were the “Cheers” of Bakery and part of our guest’s lives.

8. What did you like the least?

The learning curve of costly mistakes – not enough resources to find out how to do something right without it costing me $ 1,000 + dollars.

9. What was your favorite bakery product to make at your shop?

Chopped Cinnamon Raisin Bread, man was that good.

10. What’s the best idea you learned from your time as a retail bakery owner?

To talk with other owners, these guys drop great ideas like rain drops.

11. Name one trend you think will surface in retail bakery soon?

Products that are great and just happen to be Sugar-Free. In case you cannot guess, I am a Type 2.

12. What’s your take on the economy – what’s ahead for retail bakery next year?

We will have to adjust our value proposition to live with higher costs. Those that do that well will grow and grow. We are one of the best comfort foods out there, and Starbucks and the cupcake people have set a retail price ceiling that all of us can thrive under.

13. Why should bakers plan to attend the All Things Baking show?

Let me count the ways…..Best Retail Show in the Country this year. Location, location location. New ideas, Fresh Ideas. Bakers cannot afford to wait until the next IBIE.  Now is the time – see 12 above. The RPIA Group holds our Annual Meeting over products/programs there because it is the single best place to match buyers and sellers.