Baldo Dattolo, president and chief executive officer of Anthony & Sons Bakery, Denville, NJ, is quick to point out that when it comes to the family business, he likes to back up his decisions with research and data. The bakery’s decision to develop a sliced bread with avocado baked into the formulation didn’t feel risky because the research showed that consumers would respond positively. After decades of growth in the popularity of avocado on multigrain toast, it just made sense, said Ben Rizzitello, vice president of sales and marketing for Anthony & Sons. 

Anthony & Sons has proven to be right. Only 1.5 years since the launch of The Avocado Bread Co. brand, the signature bread is now sold in 5,000 retail stores nationwide and growing, with no one else making anything quite like it. 

Dattolo has a similar approach to his capital spending too. To justify capital spending on new equipment or production lines, Dattolo looks at projected sales to anticipate at what point the bakery needs to invest to support that growth. 

“You have to see it ahead of time,” he said about the company’s investments. “You can see and feel what’s coming as far as sales.”

Examining the numbers and conducting the research are critical to successful decision-making in business and in this bakery. But in an industry that is just as much art as it is science, instinct has to count for something. Knowing when to pull the trigger on a capital investment or a new product is not just about the science of cold hard facts; it’s also about the art of knowing when something just makes sense. 

When I visited Anthony & Sons earlier this year, Dattolo answered so many of my questions with “Why not?” because that’s the innovative and passionate spirit he has built this business on and developed through his entire team. Very much still a family business, Anthony & Sons lean on their Italian heritage and experience in addition to the data during product development. 

“Our family is into food,” he said. “We love the creativity part, and that runs throughout everything we do.” 

That creativity and passion and gut instinct are evident in everything Anthony & Sons does, as you can read in “A Passion for Innovation” on Page 22. It comes through in their nimble R&D team that makes customers’ ideas realities, capital investment decisions to  support growing sales and the care the leaders show their employees. Anthony & Sons is guided by the science of data and the art of instinct.