Semifreddi’s CEO offers fresh-baked ideas on running a family business
Semifreddi’s CEO Tom Frainier – who calls himself the company’s “chief bootlicker” – shares his business story with Hult students.
Tom Frainier, CEO of the Bay Area bakery Semifreddi’s, brought his insights on running a successful family business – and some tasty fresh baguettes – to Hult San Francisco as part of the Corporate Relations department’s “A Day in the Life” speaker series featuring local professionals.
Frainier, who has run the Alameda-based company with his sister and brother-in-law Barbara and Michael Rose for the past 25 years, has helped the bakery go from being a tiny operation in a Kensington warehouse to one of the most popular bread distributors in the region.
How does Semifreddi’s do it? Frainier shared their tips for success, and not just in the bread business: be efficient, maintain a reasonable balance between work and home, give back to your community, and above all, treat employees “like family.” Frainier, who has a background in finance at a Fortune 500 company prior to joining the family business, stressed the importance of building a good staff and maintaining a fun and uplifting workplace. At Semifreddi’s, the employees are the ones who test the product, they listen to music while they bake, they receive training to better their skills, and they never have to sit through performance reviews. In a roomful of about 30 students who will become avid job seekers in a few short months, it was a refreshing discussion.
The people, the product and the dough: Semifreddi’s by the numbers
- 35: Number of different kinds of breads they make
- 12: Number of different pastries
- 30: Miles in any direction from Alameda to which they deliver (Being the best in the bakery business means keeping it fresh!)
- 1984: Year Semifreddi’s opened in Kensington
- 450: Size in square feet of the original bakery
- 130: Number of current employees (includes the Alameda headquarters, the delivery drivers, and at the two retail locations)
- 90: Percentage of employees now in management positions who started at Semifreddi’s at the bottom
- 45: Maximum number of hours a week managers can work
- 0: Number of layoffs the company has had since it started
- 500,000: Approximate amount in dollars worth of baked goods they donate to charity each year
- 15,000,000: Approximate amount in sales per year
Photo: Rebecca Joyce
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