NORWALK, OH — The year was 1995. Tilmon “Tim” Brown was 50 years old and certain he was ready to retire. At least, that’s what his calloused hands were telling him.

He’d worked those hands hard in nearly every facet of the baking industry and was rounding out 30 years with Continental Baking, working at its Ralston headquarters in St. Louis, MO, as corporate VP of sales. Instead of taking the retirement route, though, he got in on a deal to acquire a 28-year-old bakery.

A quarter-century later, Brown is chairman of Norwalk, OH-based New Horizons Bakery and is now part of the next class to be inducted into the American Society of Baking’s Baking Hall of Fame.


He counts his blessings every day, and among the many is a call he received from his friend and colleague, the late John Paterakis, Sr.

“I was ready to retire,” Brown recalled. “And John Paterakis called me and said, ‘Hey Timmy, are you ready to start working for a living?’”

As industry colleagues and former customers, Paterakis and his business partner Peter Grimm were people Brown knew he could trust. “We were always straight with each other,” he recalled. “We were honest, whether it was good news or bad.”

That foundation is what piqued Brown’s interest when Paterakis and Grimm were looking to buy a bakery and offered him sweat equity in the deal. He helped them pick the acquisition and had the option to put a bit of cash into a mezzanine investment with very little risk.

“I learned early in my career that if I treat people the way I want to be treated, I’d get good results. I’ve never let go of that philosophy, even as I took on higher positions, and I still live by it today.” —Tim Brown | chair | New Horizons Bakery


When the group acquired New Horizons, originally known as West Baking Co., Paterakis shared his insight on people and production efficiency, and Grimm focused on the number crunching. In his leadership role at New Horizons, Brown used his manufacturing and sales experience to turn the operation from “just” a bun manufacturing plant to a bakery where folks were excited to come work.

“I learned early in my career that if I treat people the way I want to be treated, I’d get good results,” he said. “I’ve never let go of that philosophy, even as I took on higher positions, and I still live by it today.”

That mentality is evident in New Horizons’ three baking facilities, which operate in Ohio and Indiana with more than 500 employees. The company has grown to become one of the largest bun and English muffin suppliers to foodservice in the US, as well as a top supplier to the McDonald’s network.


Today, New Horizons is one of the country’s most successful woman- and minority-owned businesses that consistently makes the Black Enterprise Top 100 list. But Brown is steadfast in defining the company not by the race or gender of its leadership but by the values on which it was built.

“I take a lot of pride in those designations, but for me, being a successful Black businessman is only good for my ego,” Brown said. “I run a business, and I want my company to be successful. I demonstrate to my customers that my product is the best quality and I offer the best service and overall performance, and I want them to judge me not because of what I look like but because of what I deliver.”

In 1995, Brown thought he’d already done it all. Little did he know, his journey was only just beginning, and it would one that would lead him to great business success and a spot on the Hall of Fame’s hallowed wall.

“That’s not to say I’ve done everything right,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes along the way, but every time I’ve done something wrong, I’ve learned from it.”

He wasn’t ready to stop 26 years ago, and he’s not ready to stop now. Tim Brown isn’t even ready to slow down.

“I think slowing down is more like a death sentence,” he said. “I’m a stronger and better man today than I’ve ever been, and I’m still able to help a lot of people. I’m blessed by that. I expect I’ll just keep going until the good Lord takes me home.”