MAYSVILLE, OK — As the workforce crisis wears on across nearly every industry, commercial baking companies are constantly on the lookout for not only new employees but also recruitment ideas.

Burford Corp., a Middleby Company, has benefitted from a local high school program that led an engineering hopeful right to the door of this equipment supplier.

Ronan Little, a senior at Purcell High School in neighboring Purcell, OK, reached out to Burford expressing interest in a professional internship/apprentice program that would allow him to work at the manufacturer for two hours, twice a week, for a full semester.

After struggling to find success in a class that was unrelated to his career goals, Little worked with his school to find something directly connected to his vision for his future career.

“I needed an alternative that would possibly help me in college or my future,” Little said. “We were looking at companies in the area that had engineering-related work where they could really help me.”

Little learned about Burford Corp. from a family friend who works for the company.

“We had never done anything like this, but we said, ‘Why not?’” said Megan Sutton, HR manager at Burford Corp. “It was a way to partner with the community, not just the high school.”

Little’s interest in engineering comes from a love of mathematics and hands-on work. And while his aspirations are aimed at aerospace, engineering work and equipment manufacturing for the baking industry has been a pleasant surprise for him.

“I’ve never looked at a bakery as doing all this, but when I come to work, I get to make a lot of different things, and that was surprising,” Little said. “It’s also helped me learn a lot more about the engineering aspect of this work.”

Little’s internship creates firsthand exposure to the manufacturing process and teaches him specific skills he’ll need when pursuing an engineering-related education and career.


“This is a way we can invest in the future.” —Megan Sutton | HR Manager | Burford


During his semester, Little is gaining experience and developing skills that will enable him to return to Burford, whether as a college intern or even a future employee. And it also provides opportunities for future high school students to participate with Burford through the high school again as well.

“If this program is successful, maybe we could have seniors participate every semester,” Sutton said. “This is a way we can invest in the future — potentially into future employees — because our workers tend to stay with the company.”

For example, Clay Miller, Burford president, started with the company 20 years ago as an entry-level engineer. Over the course of his tenure, he’s worked in engineering and sales positions before stepping up as VP of sales, followed by company president.

“We are always excited to find opportunities where we can connect with our local community,” Miller said. “This provides the next-gen workforce a sneak peek into bakery equipment manufacturing while also allowing Burford to build relationships that may attract future talent. We are thrilled to have Mr. Ronan Little on our team and hope to continue these efforts going forward.”