This column is part of our Last Word series, which invites noted professionals to provide closing thoughts at the end of each issue of Commercial Baking. See the full issue here.

KANSAS CITY, KS — Everything I know about bread I learned from my dad.

Well … almost everything.

My dad taught me the fundamentals: Quality, care and the importance of time. When it comes to sourdough, you just can’t shortcut.


He started Farm to Market Bread Co. when I was just 8 years old, and I wasn’t much older when I knew I wanted to take over the family business someday. When that day came, I was armed with a business degree and a lifetime of lessons from working at the bench and driving the delivery routes. But the truth is, when you get to a position of leadership, even in a company you’ve spent your life around, you’re never done learning.

I realized quickly that I needed to build a network.


Farm to Market is an artisan bread company, and to be honest, this breed of bakers can be — for lack of a better term — a little bit “snobbish” about bread, especially regarding what’s made at scale. But building a network meant I had to shake that mentality. Thanks to mentorship from my friend Mark Boyer, former CEO of Tippin’s Pies, I opened my mind to what can be learned from others around me. Mark introduced me to Kerwin Brown, president and CEO of BEMA, and that opened doors to dozens of other connections.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to visit tons of other bakeries and learn best practices for efficiency, food safety and automation. Yes, I discovered that “automation” doesn’t have to be a blasphemous term in an artisan bakery.


My dad passed his formulas on to me, and those will never change. Our San Francisco-style sourdough is the foundation of Farm to Market and always will be. But I’m learning where and how to scale appropriately, and I’ve discovered the areas of the process where automation can benefit the business and, in some cases, improve the product without sacrificing my father’s fundamentals.

I learned about bread from my dad, and through my own professional development, I’ve learned how to be a commercial artisan. That’s what’s great about being a family baker … I have the honor of carrying on a legacy while also creating one of my own.

This story is from the February | Q1 2024 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full digital edition here.