Bob Drogan approached me nearly two years ago and asked about Columbia County Bread & Granola and our plans for the future. Bob was an engineer overseeing production at a very successful consumer goods corporation south of Hazleton that had seen substantial growth during his time there but he was looking at making a move and that meant finding a company that might benefit from his skills. I suspect that we were one of many small businesses Bob was looking at and I wasn't sure we were ready for a top line executive. And yet he kept in touch and we got to know each other and I gave him access to our company financials. He ran some calculations and showed me projections that could transform our barely profitable bakery into something of a national brand.
The talks over beers continued but while acting interested, I always seemed to demur, unsure what it would mean for me and for the bakers to turn over operations to someone new. But I also knew we were hamstrung by lack of access to capital and Bob offered us a chance to turn that around. And, I had come to realize that Bob had never once given me any reason to doubt his sincerity, his skill or his integrity.
Some paperwork was drawn up. A lawyer then another got involved and after more discussion and one or two nitpicks, we had an agreement. He left his high paying job and starts with us on Monday.
Please wish us well.
Doug CCB&G 10/15/17
Columbia County Bread & Granola is a group of bakers, designers, packers, a pretty snarky bookkeeper and, if you can believe the second shift bakers, a ghost...
A night janitor, or so they theorize.
But it's not like he comes in and cleans or anything like that - that would be truly great. In any event, we like to say we have reinvented bread and kicked the oats out of granola. Literally.
To find out more about us (excluding the janitor) read on...
Note: Mine's kind of sad - at first - but it gets better....
In 1991 I was living in Manhattan ekeing out a happy if impoverished life as a cartoonist (DC Comics, Fantagraphics, Village Voice, etc.) while also reporting for duty reading thousands of manuscripts for a slew of literary agents at the William Morris Agency. My life changed not long after Rodney King was beaten senseless by a cadre of Los Angeles's finest who were subsequently exonerated. Protest groups roved about Midtown within shouting range of my apartment. My wife at the time had seen the gruesome TV images from Los Angeles and freaked out. It was time to flee to the suburbs.
Within a matter of days of moving into a small but idyllic cottage nestled in among the vast estates of Bedford, New York, we got a pup, a German Shorthair Pointer (a wonderfully attentive and handsome breed of dog). Scout and I hit the horse trails for long walks. Unfortunately, for all the supposed safety of living in the exurbs, I was bit by a tick. And yes, I contracted Lyme Disease. Two courses of antibiotic treatments seemed to have little affect on my random headaches, joint pain and general sense of malaise. A friend recommended self medicating thru diet. She turned me on to The Weston A. Price Foundation, an international advocacy group that promotes healing thru traditional and even ancient dietary practices. Among the many dietary traditions they espoused was sprouted grain bread over traditional flour based breads. I got hooked on Ezekial and Alverado Street breads. And, I started feeling better.
Jump ahead nearly a decade. My personal woes suddenly intensified when my wife left me taking my dog and young daughter with her back to Ohio where we both originated. I moved back to Manhattan on Labor Day weekend of 2001. I was depressed and cynical and in an awful funk only to wake up one morning to the horror of 9/11. All my sorrowful self pity was overwhelmed by an entire city and nation in despair and anger. In the intervening days, I wandered about. I volunteered cause there were so many things to be done but also because I couldn't seem to work. It went on like this for awhile when, out of the blue--like a bolt to the head, I decided I had to figure out how to make a loaf of sprouted grain bread. It was an odd determination but one that quickly became an obsession. It completely overtook me and gave me a needed purpose. Unfortunately, I tried and failed and tried and failed again and again. But every failure offered the opportunity to learn something and I was sure that one day I was going to figure it out.
A few more years passed and I found myself in a new and wonderful relationship and the two of us bought an old Victorian house in, as circumstances had it, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania. Fortuitously, this house had a convection oven. At the same tine, I met up with a local network of foodies, bakers, artisan cheese makers and organic farmers. I jumped back into the sprouted bread and this time, I nailed it (or got close enough). With a small farmer's market around the corner, I built a cart, baked up a few dozen loaves, developed a small but avid following and, somehow, that led to a chance encounter with nutritionist Lyn Genet who was looking for someone making a flax granola at the same time I was playing around with a flax based granola but had no real sense of what I was going to do with it.
From that association, a direction in life became a purpose and that purpose became the opportunity to build a company built around the concept of food as medicine - what it was once and always should be. Since I have no background in business, I have been on a rather steep learning curve but I have had the great good fortune of bringing in exactly the right people at the right time. Some have come and gone - particularly Michael Perakovich who took on my obsession with finding the perfect bread and got us on all natural leavens and eliminated flour completely. Keith Seaman made a huge imprint on our design and branding. His talents landed him a job in the big time but we bring him back as needed. The following have stayed and we remain committed to building an employee centric company that sources locally when possible and places a particular emphasis on dealing directly with our customers to ensure absolute satisfaction in what we do, why we do it and what it means to be given this incredible opportunity.
To check out one of Doug's original cartoons, click here.
Billy came aboard as a granola baker when The Dr Oz Show* madness struck and we just never let him go. Then, when Mike Jones shifted over to manage the Cafe, Billy stepped in to manage the kitchen and oversee scheduling. After Michael Perakovich left to travel, Bill took on full responsibility for bread production.
We all look upon Billy as the heart and soul of the company. Outspoken, quick-witted, highly opinionated on any given topic, Billy is absolutely dedicated to what we do and, if you ever have an opportunity to work with us, you better bring a similar level of commitment or you will hear it loud and clear from Bill.
Ian Lowe came aboard about the same time as Billy and quickly gravitated to working with Michael P. on bread production, but also got involved in granola production and has proved himself time and again. Currently, Ian oversees pita production, producing what we all regard as the finest pocket pita bread available anywhere at anytime in any shape or form across the universe no less.
Ian also gets credit for working closely with Billy on the very detailed almost algorithmic calculations needed to make the bread we make.
Fancy Dave was working at the local Staples Copy Center when The Dr Oz Show* madness struck. When we went on our hiring spree, Dave's name came up. We all knew him as a guy with a great attitude who displayed a real dedication to complete customer satisfaction. Despite not having much kitchen experience we brought Dave in and he quickly showed real aptitude in the kitchen. Luckily for us, Dave has stayed on, performing multiple roles including tech fixes on the website and product photography. Everyone knows he is very handsome and has a great, totally not creepy mustache. Today, Dave oversees granola production and is in charge of new product development. We are working on new flat breads, a granola bar, pretzels and more.
Steve runs our packaging and shipping department and is somewhat of a wizard cutting and applying labels. Steve also handles a lot of our market stand sales as needed and has worked with Nick and Keith on our videos as a sound engineer and foley artist. When not working with us, Steve is a fantastic musician and plays with various bands all over the area. He also spends a lot of his time teaching guitar, recording local acts and creating original artwork.
Our Bookkeeper and all around well organized person in charge.
And then there is... More to come... New hires...
Keith came on as a student intern from the fine art department at Bloomsburg University. He essentially had all the skills we were looking for to design what has become our fantastic packaging, website design, logos and brands for both Columbia County Bread & Granola and Bakers Guild Cafe.
Keith is currently on hiatus, making the big bucks in the big city but he comes back when needed and we're forever confident he'll eventually come back full time and oversee all our creative efforts.
* *The Dr. Oz Show" madness - on January 8th, 2013, Lyn Genet appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss her new book, "The Plan". At one point during the show, Lyn and Dr. Oz sit down to eat a bowl of flax granola together. Within minutes, orders started pouring into our website. Those orders ran into the thousands and continued for a solid six weeks.