Dewey’s Bakery Inc., which produces 15 million to 20 million cases of baked goods annually with a staff of 285 employees, posted an on-time in-full delivery rate of more than 99% for all of 2022.

“That doesn’t come without a lot of work and a lot of planning on the procurement end, on the front end and managing all the operations,” said Mike Senackerib, chief executive officer of Dewey’s Bakery. “Our throughputs and efficiency are so much better than they’ve ever been. That’s been the way we’ve navigated through the supply chain.”

Running on a 14-day schedule, the bakery has two 12-hour shifts daily, and typically is in production 10 days in a row, followed by four days off. It operates on what David Catlett, chief operations officer, called a Sa-Qua-Pro system.

“It’s safety, quality and production to show that employee safety is No. 1,” he said. “Obviously, the quality of our products is No. 2, and clearly, we’ve got to be able to produce products to stay in business and generate revenue.”

Mr. Catlett is a self-described numbers geek, who keeps close tabs on overall equipment efficiency (OEE), throughput, waste and other production percentages through Excel spreadsheets. He shares those daily KPIs each week with the leadership team, which ensures visibility and accountability.

“Operational efficiency has been a guiding star for us,” he said. “Educating our team, really enforcing the fact that numbers drive the business. Numbers tell the story.”

The company used to have a large TV on the production room floor to display production efficiency and output numbers but found it was too easy to ignore, so a dry erase board was put up in its place. Supervisors on the line can now update numbers throughout the shift.

That has been remarkable,” Mr. Catlett said. “We have our shift supervisors on the line track the data and input it. They break out the calculators and do it the old-school method, but that gives them a sense of ownership. And it incorporates a little friendly competition between our shifts and teams. We’ve also been able to avoid losing momentum from shift change. For second shift, our key operators come in 10 to 15 minutes early, and they go over numbers with our first-shift operators, study the board and see what went well and what didn’t go well. The transition from shift to shift is as smooth as possible.”

Mr. Catlett’s goal is to get to 85% of OEE, which he said was an industry standard best-in-class.

“We’re not there yet, but over the past year and a half that we’ve been tracking it, we’re trending positively,” Mr. Catlett said. “And with continued automation, it’s allowed us to get there a little bit quicker.”

These goals can’t be executed, however, without a well-trained workforce. The company provides educational opportunities and seeks to promote workers from within the organization. 

Dewey’s Bakery trains workers with monthly courses they must complete using Intertek Alchemy, which provides guidance on food safety, leadership and more, and workers are cross-trained on jobs and equipment.

“I’ve got employees out here who can run any machine in any facility, which is phenomenal,” Mr. Catlett said. “That is what we strive to achieve: cross-training, flexibility and just being versatile in what we do.”

The  orientation program for new employees is continuously updated, such as providing a tour and information about jobs before they start.

“We’ve had employees start, and they won’t be here for more than a couple of hours because it was something they didn’t expect,” Mr. Catlett said. “We’ve really gained a lot of ground by bringing employees in for a general walk-through. We show them that these are the areas we’re hiring for, these are some of the support roles, the job function, expectations, etc., and then let them decide from there whether they want to be part of the organization.”

Dewey’s also strives to promote a fun working environment when possible, playing music during the work day, celebrating important milestones with cakes and showing employee appreciation through cookouts, ice cream socials and other activities.

“We really try to promote a positive atmosphere,” Mr. Catlett said. “We incorporate the work hard-play hard mentality. Come to work happy, leave happy and achieve great results while you’re here.”

This article is an excerpt from the June 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Dewey's Bakery Inc., click here.