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Bundy Baking interview: “Relationships matter immensely”

Bundy Baking has enjoyed successful business worldwide over the past years, with American Pan strengthening its foothold in Europe. Staying close to its customers and listening to their changing needs has not only helped the group weather the storm of recent disruptions, but it has always been the key to thriving. William Bundy – Global President, Operations, Bundy Baking Solutions, and Jason Bowman – President American Pan Europe & MENA talk resilience, acquisitions, technology and, first of all, loyalty, in an interview.


Catalina Mihu: Since the last iba, in 2018, Bundy Baking has seen growth everywhere in the world. What was the strategy behind the milestones reached since then, including the new acquisitions in Europe?

William Bundy, Global President, Operations, Bundy Baking Solutions

William Bundy: Since the last iba in 2018, our global customer base experienced substantial growth worldwide, and our strategy behind these milestones has primarily revolved around meeting our customers’ needs and getting closer to them. The global marketplace during this period was particularly challenging, and our foremost concern was to support our customers effectively, focusing on being where our customers are, getting closer to them, and providing the best possible service.

At American Pan, relationships matter immensely to us. We believe in building strong, lasting connections with our customers. Acquiring or partnering with companies in Europe was a strategic step towards achieving these goals and reinforcing our commitment to our customers. This move allowed us to not only meet the unique demands of European customers but also to provide a level of service and support that aligns with our core values. The inclusion of Runex in Sweden and Turbel in Turkey enhanced our reach into the Scandinavian and MENA regions. Even before this, we had a significant international presence; we were already serving customers in approximately 94 countries around the world. We recognized that our European customers, in particular, had specific requirements, including shorter lead times and a desire for closer, more personalized service.

Our proprietary coatings, including Durashield and OptiShield, played a pivotal role in our strategy. Our goal has been to provide European customers with the essential care and support required to extend the lifespan of their baking pans, including offering recoating services. This commitment was crucial in a highly competitive market where product quality and longevity were key factors.

Mihu: In that time, the industry and the world have been going through global, complex disruptions, from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine, energy costs and recession fears. How would you define the priorities for continued growth against such a backdrop?

Jason Bowman, President, American Pan Europe and MENA

Jason Bowman: Our priority for continued growth in such a challenging backdrop remains unchanged: staying close to our customers. The stability we provide by working closely with our customers has been paramount in navigating these turbulent times. The global interruptions have just proven our strategy of being close to our customers both geographically and relationally.  As challenges increase or change, being able to react quickly and ensure that we have the ability to respond quickly and keep our customer operations running is paramount. 

Additionally, our commitment to innovation, as exemplified by our ePANs, continues to be a cornerstone of our strategy to ensure sustained growth. ePANs are a cutting-edge innovation in the baking industry, engineered for energy efficiency and sustainability. These advanced pans are designed to significantly reduce energy consumption in bakeries through several features. These features include a proprietary high-strength aluminized steel developed specifically for our baking pans.  This material is up to 2.5 times stronger than standard aluminized steel and pans can be up to 30% lighter and heat and cool much faster.  This allows bakeries to decrease oven temperatures and bake times and also helps ensure an even bake.  By ensuring even baking and consistent product quality, ePANs not only optimize energy usage but also minimize waste, lowering overall operational costs. With their long-lasting coatings and non-stick properties, ePANs reduce the need for frequent pan replacements, further enhancing energy and resource savings. These pans can be customized in various sizes and configurations to suit bakery requirements, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective choice that positively impacts both the environment and bakery profitability.


Mihu: What makes a business resilient in the baking industry?

William Bundy: Resilience in the baking industry is a multifaceted endeavor, and American Pan and all of Bundy Baking Solutions’ approach encompasses several critical elements. Efficiencies and innovation have been pivotal in addressing the industry’s challenge of high energy costs, for example. Our commitment to innovation not only reduces operational expenses but also extends the life of baking pans, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Maintaining close proximity to customers is of the highest importance to us. American Pan has strategically positioned service centers across the globe, ensuring prompt and efficient support. This approach not only strengthens customer relationships but also bolsters resilience, enabling us to balance operations and ensure uninterrupted product and service delivery, even in the face of unexpected challenges. Additionally, strategic acquisitions and scalability have played a key role in diversifying our portfolio, granting access to diverse markets and reducing dependence on any single market while equipping us with the resources to navigate disruptions effectively. It came with a cost for us to have enough raw materials at different locations to ensure our customers didn’t have any supply chain interruptions, but we were willing to do that.

On top of that, our industry-leading coatings play a vital role in resilience. These coatings are renowned for their exceptional performance and durability, ensuring that our products enhance the longevity and performance of the bakeries that use them.

Investing in talent is also at the core of our resilience. Our organization boasts experts across various fields, from engineers to inside sales teams, spanning different functions and countries. This ongoing commitment to developing a skilled and knowledgeable team empowers us to overcome challenges and drive our business forward. Having a robust team also allows us to be closer to our customers, which is our priority as previously stated.

Mihu: What made Runex and Turbel interesting acquisitions?

William Bundy: The acquisitions of Runex and Turbel held significant interest for us at American Pan for several compelling reasons. We recognized that there are notable regional differences in the types of baking pans preferred by different markets. For instance, in Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, there was a prevalence of semi-industrial bakeries using rubberized coatings, while silicon and fluoropolymer coatings were more common in Turkey and the MENA region.

The expertise of Runex and Turbel in these areas allowed us to better understand and cater to these regional nuances. Both Runex and Turbel were experts in their respective fields, which was immensely valuable to us. Having partners who excelled in their specific markets enabled us to share best practices and leverage their deep knowledge to enhance our offerings.

Jason Bowman: The acquisitions not only introduced us to new types of customers but also opened up opportunities in different types of businesses, bakeries and products. This diversification expanded our horizons and allowed us to explore new market segments.

Preserving the legacy of these family businesses was essential to us. Both Runex and Turbel were multigenerational businesses with a strong tradition of taking care of their people and a deep passion for the baking industry. This common commitment fostered a sense of unity and purpose within the organization. We were dedicated to integrating these acquisitions while respecting their history and maintaining the essence of their family-run operations. We discovered a shared culture and ethos between American Pan, and these acquired companies. This cultural alignment facilitated a smooth integration process and ensured that our values and principles were consistent across the organization.

To put it briefly, what made Runex and Turbel such interesting acquisitions for American Pan was our willingness to invest, the regional expertise they brought, the preservation of their family business legacies, cultural alignment, expanded customer bases, and the shared passion for the baking industry. These acquisitions not only enriched our capabilities but also strengthened our position in the global baking industry.


Mihu: How are the two new companies integrating into the group?

Jason Bowman: The integration of the two new companies, Runex and Turbel, into the American Pan Company has been a smooth and natural process. Their cultural alignment with our organization made it a seamless fit.

William Bundy: We already had established relationships and great respect for these individuals even before the acquisition, which contributed to a sense of familiarity and trust. In the intimate and closely-knit baking industry, partnerships often go beyond just business transactions. We’ve found that every time we collaborate with a new company, we not only bring our intellectual property to the table but also learn something profound from our partners and it makes us all better. This collaborative approach has been a driving force behind successful integration, allowing us to learn and grow together as a unified group.


Mihu: What are the markets in focus for each of the companies in the group?

William Bundy: The markets in focus for each of the companies within American Pan are diverse and reflect a commitment to meeting the unique needs of various regions. American Pan can make any metal pan for any baked goods across the spectrum of Pan, Bun, Pizza, Cake, Mecatherm, Autobake, in any material with the best coatings of every class, including silicon glaze, rubberized silicone, silicone resins and fluoropolymers such as Durashield. We have customers that make multiple products, not only cake, or not only bread. There are a lot of nuances, and our multiple companies and locations allow us to have this deeper knowledge and capacity. Our customers and OEMs can rely on us to be able to supply different types of pans from multiple locations around the world.

Our approach is broad and adaptable, enabling us to respond to the specific requirements of each market within our group’s portfolio. Within the group, we have a strategic focus on various markets that align with the unique strengths and capabilities of each of the companies under our umbrella.


Mihu: How do they support each other with new product development? And what are the priorities for innovation at Bundy Baking?

William Bundy: In terms of supporting each other with new product development within the American Pan group, we have a wide range of experts, some in materials, some in manufacturing methods, some in coatings and others in baking knowledge. We use all of these to create a pan with our priorities, the best overall value and life for our pans, and, at the same time, meeting our customers’ specific wants and needs. For example, sustainability and energy efficiency have become a very important topic for our customers and they are a priority for us as well.

One of our key innovations that we take great pride in is the development of the ePAN, which we introduced 15 years ago, even before energy efficiency became a significant concern. This innovation has been a game-changer in the industry.

Over the years, we’ve made remarkable progress with our products. For example, throughout the evolution of our AMERICOAT glaze coatings, we have increased the release life by nearly 300%. We have achieved similar results with DuraShield, seeing bake cycles of up to over 6,000 at some bun bakeries.

The development of these proprietary coatings and pans was extremely technically challenging and required a serious commitment, strong partnerships and significant investments. However, it turned out to be an important win for not only our organization but also the entire baking industry. This same commitment, partnership and investment strategy was employed when we developed ePANs and we have made significant enhancements over the years to be able to create pans, both molds for bun trays and now even deep-drawn bread pans.


Mihu: How does the American Pan SMART Pan Tracking® system help bakeries with continuous improvement?

William Bundy: The American Pan SMART Pan Tracking® system plays a vital role in supporting bakeries with continuous improvement in several ways. Firstly, this tracking system is an invaluable tool for bakers as it provides data that allows them to monitor line efficiency, understand overall capacity and product yield and understand the entire pan life cycle. It also allows us to closely monitor each individual pan, and the performance of that pan, so we can draw conclusions about why certain pans may not be performing at their best. This level of detailed analysis leads to more informed decision-making and ultimately fosters stronger partnerships with our customers.

Additionally, the SMART Pan Tracking® system aids in managing inventory for our customers. It allows us to be proactive rather than reactive in determining when a new set of pans needs to be sent to a bakery. This means we can facilitate a seamless transition from worn to new pans, minimizing any disruption in their pan supply. Importantly, this process ensures that our customers have precisely what they need, without the investment into an extra set of pans. By anticipating our customers’ needs through this tracking system, we contribute to optimizing their production processes and overall efficiency. It’s a predictive and forward-leaning approach that we are tremendously excited about for the future. We are committed to continuously improving it, harnessing the latest technology to provide even greater value in the next generation to our customers.


Mihu: What additional, similar smart features are available? And what could new developments in this regard target?

William Bundy: In our most advanced applications and partnerships with customers, optimizing the use of smart equipment goes beyond simply selling a product. It involves establishing a true partnership with the customer. This means having joint visibility into their needs and operations. Technology, together with an advanced level of collaboration, will allow us to provide them with an extremely personal level of service that will help them with not only pan performance but also the workload of their bakery managers.

Looking ahead, future developments in this area could focus on tailored solutions, and advanced technologies involving even more sophisticated monitoring and predictive insights to further enhance our support to bakery managers, allowing us to proactively address issues before they impact our customers’ operations. We aim to further enhance our smart features by incorporating innovative technologies that provide real-time data and predictive insights. Ultimately, our aim is to continue evolving and tailoring our services to meet the unique needs of our customers, providing them with peace of mind and freeing them from the burden of worrying about the entire lifecycle of pans and coatings, knowing that they will never have to worry about running out of essential supplies. It’s all about helping bakery managers focus on their core operations without the added concern of managing their pan inventory. This way, we can continue to support bakery managers in streamlining their operations and maximizing efficiency.

In addition to these smart features, having a robust sales team is essential. Our sales professionals work closely with our customers to understand their specific needs and provide personalized solutions. This human element complements our smart features and ensures that our customers receive the highest level of support and service.


Mihu: How was the waste prevention and reduction program set up? What waste management strategies does Bundy Baking follow?

Jason Bowman: To support our customers with waste prevention and reduction, we prioritize the longevity of pans and coatings. Delivering high-quality products and coatings ensures optimal performance, reducing the likelihood of waste due to product failures. When products last longer, there’s a reduced need for replacements, resulting in decreased material consumption over time.

The SMART Pan Tracking® system is a crucial tool in waste management strategy. It enables us to pinpoint areas where waste is occurring, providing valuable insights for process optimization. We actively pursue lightweight pan designs that continue to be strong while requiring fewer materials, which significantly contributes to waste reduction. Additionally, lightweight pans offer ease of handling for our customers at the bakeries. We maintain multiple refurbishment facilities worldwide to ensure timely service for bakeries. This proactive approach aids our customers in avoiding waste caused by pans or coatings that have exceeded their lifecycle, preventing pans from sticking, or excessive use of oil and greases, for example.

William Bundy: At our own companies, it has always been part of the manufacturing process to reduce waste and energy use from production – whether it is with the recycling of metals, ensuring that valuable resources don’t go to waste, or our commitment to energy efficiency initiatives. One of our core strategies is reinvesting in our equipment and workforce to enhance the sustainability of our operations. We meet or exceed all local sustainability requirements for air emissions, water management and are dedicated to responsible handling of scrap materials. Our goal is to minimize waste while delivering top-notch products and services to our customers.


Mihu: With a new iba approaching, what are the latest innovations that meet current manufacturing challenges?

Jason Bowman: As the upcoming iba approaches, we are excited to showcase innovations aimed at optimizing baking processes and product quality. These innovations include new energy-efficient solutions for the bread market and updated pan and coating designs, particularly tailored for the cake market.

Our SMART Pan Tracking® system remains a game-changer, offering real-time insights into pan usage, and helping bakeries identify and address operational challenges more effectively. We are also continuously developing and refining advanced coatings that ensure the longevity and performance of pans. These coatings play a crucial role in meeting the evolving needs of the industry.

We are committed to providing custom solutions for various markets and new products. For example, we have seen customer experience a challenge in scaling up while maintaining the craftsmanship of their specific bread, and we are actively working on solutions to meet this challenge.

William Bundy: American Pan is really excited to introduce new pan technology co-developed in collaboration with other equipment manufacturers. We like to work closely with other bakery suppliers, and the last thing a bakery and oven manufacturer, for example, wants is to have a pan as an afterthought. Being involved in the ideation process for a new or retooled line helps our customers avoid issues closer to the launching of their line.

Building on our success with ePANs for buns, we are launching our ePAN for Bread designs, which have been tested and proven efficient by real bakeries. We anticipate that this innovation will provide significant benefits to our customers in Europe. Innovations that align with our commitment to sustainability and reducing energy consumption, that is a real challenge worldwide, but particularly in Europe.


Mihu: What changes in industry trends are you observing and how do they reflect in your day-to-day work with customers? How are you preparing to answer them in the long run?

Jason Bowman: We have been closely observing significant changes in industry trends that have a direct impact on our day-to-day work with customers. One notable trend is the price sensitivity and labor issues within the baking industry. To address this, we are committed to providing our customers with the utmost value, focusing on coating longevity and delivering the best possible return on investment with our baking pans. The industry emphasizes the importance of value, longevity, and innovative designs, which are qualities that our ePAN product line excels in, making it a strong fit for the evolving market demands, especially in line with the high energy costs the European market is facing. Furthermore, there is a heightened focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in the industry, aligning well with our product offerings. We are committed to designing and producing baking pans that contribute to energy savings and sustainable practices. This approach not only meets customer expectations but also aligns with our commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing.

William Bundy: We have also noticed a shift towards larger-scale production, resulting in greater complexity and larger-sized pans. While this presents both opportunities and risks for our customers, it aligns perfectly with our expertise and capabilities. We are well-prepared to navigate the challenges associated with producing larger pans and can effectively mitigate potential risks. Another noteworthy trend in the industry is the growing emphasis on bigger, faster, and more efficient production lines. We are actively preparing to meet this trend head-on by developing baking pans that are not only compatible with high-capacity production processes but also enhance efficiency and quality. Our goal is to support our customers in achieving greater production output while maintaining product consistency.


Mihu: The ASB’s Baking Hall of Fame is hosted by the Bundy Baking Museum. What is the concept of the museum and how are the exhibits selected?

William Bundy: The concept behind the Bundy Baking Museum, which hosts the ASB’s Baking Hall of Fame, is to establish a connection with the baking industry’s rich history. It serves as a tribute to the industry’s great heritage, showcasing the contributions and achievements of individuals and organizations. The museum aims to foster a sense of pride and appreciation among both our customers and friends in the industry, emphasizing our deep-rooted involvement and dedication to this field. One of the core objectives of the museum is to educate new employees about the industry’s history and significance. By preserving and presenting historical artifacts, the museum helps newcomers gain a deeper understanding of the baking industry’s evolution.

We are actively working on developing a similar museum for the European market. This European Museum would feature exhibits such as posters, advertisements, and machinery, highlighting the rich history of baking in Europe. American Pan is eager to collaborate with friends and partners in the European baking industry to create a meaningful and educational experience for all those connected with this industry.


Mihu: What is your collaboration with ASB and industry organizations?

William Bundy: ASB is one of many industry associations that we are members of. Each organization has its own unique mission, but together we all strive to move the baking industry forward. These associations provide unique opportunities for networking and collaboration with both other manufacturers and our bakery customers.  We take an active role in these organizations by attending conferences and trade shows and having team members who lead educational sessions and participate in leadership positions. This is a strategy to once again be as close to our customers as possible and we are involved in organizations and tradeshows throughout the world.


Mihu: What are your views on the global baking community in its competitive/collaborative landscape?

William Bundy: The global baking community thrives on a competitive yet collaborative landscape, with a strong emphasis on cooperation between companies and OEMs. This collaborative spirit leads to enhanced innovation, improved quality, and seamless project execution, benefiting customers and advancing the industry.

Jason Bowman: Customers in the baking industry greatly benefit from this collaboration. They not only want but also expect us to work seamlessly with OEMs to ensure efficient production and smooth start-ups. The openness that we maintain with OEMs paves the way for opportunities in innovation, quality improvement, and design enhancement, especially for start-up ventures. The early collaboration with OEMs is a key factor. The sooner we engage in this collaborative process, the smoother the project becomes, often resulting in a turnkey solution for our customers and bakeries. This collaborative approach ultimately serves the best interests of both the customer and the industry as a whole.


Mihu: What are your views on the global baking community in its competitive/collaborative landscape?

William Bundy: The global baking community thrives on a competitive yet collaborative landscape, with a strong emphasis on cooperation between companies and OEMs. This collaborative spirit leads to enhanced innovation, improved quality, and seamless project execution, benefiting customers and advancing the industry.

Jason Bowman: Customers in the baking industry greatly benefit from this collaboration. They not only want but also expect us to work seamlessly with OEMs to ensure efficient production and smooth start-ups. The openness that we maintain with OEMs paves the way for opportunities in innovation, quality improvement, and design enhancement, especially for start-up ventures.

The early collaboration with OEMs is a key factor. The sooner we engage in this collaborative process, the smoother the project becomes, often resulting in a turnkey solution for our customers and bakeries. This collaborative approach ultimately serves the best interests of both the customer and the industry as a whole.


Mihu: What are the values that determine the way Bundy Baking does business and what would you consider to be the most important KPIs for the company?

Jason Bowman: At Bundy Baking Solutions, the values that support the way we do business are encapsulated in our CREED. This CREED represents our culture and the core principles within our company with Commitment to making a difference, Respect for individuals and opportunities, a Family Environment where we do business, Excellence in every decision, every day, and Personal Development for successful individuals and strong teams. These values are integral to how we operate, with eagerness to contribute, and guide our interactions with both customers and partners. When it comes to key performance indicators (KPIs), the most critical metric for us is customer satisfaction. This metric is at the heart of everything we do. Our success, our partnerships, and our relationships all revolve around the satisfaction of our customers. If our customers are content and fulfilled, everything else naturally falls into place.

William Bundy: In addition, our KPIs align closely with the elements of our CREED. For instance, striving for Excellence, as highlighted by my brother Gil Bundy, is about “exceeding our customers’ expectations every day” with a focus on quality, delivery and service. This is a fundamental aspect of our performance measurement. Furthermore, the longevity of our team members is an indicator of a healthy culture within our organization. We aim to foster a work environment where our team members are proud, excited, and fulfilled in their roles.

The interview was published in Baking+Biscuit International, issue 5 – 2023.