A premium artisan bread company located at Tomken Road and Derry Road East in Mississauga, was designated as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for 2017. Bäckerhaus Veit was founded by a 24-year-old single mother who had immigrated to Canada from Germany, and needed to support herself and her daughter.
The company’s backstory reads like a case in entrepreneurial studies. The founder, Sabine Veit, started a small retail bakery in 1987 because, in her own words, “I did what I knew, which was baking.” Her parents and grandparents had been professional bakers in Germany.
When her traditional European-style breads grew in popularity, wholesalers expressed interest. Seeing an opportunity, Veit modified her operations to accommodate wholesale distribution.
Even though the company was doing well, Veit remained growth and innovation oriented. The company’s move to the 150,000-square foot space in Mississauga was a crucial growth step, in line with the founder’s original mission. The facility’s automated systems handle high-volume mass-produced basic bread and rolls orders, freeing staff to make the artisanal European-style breads and dough products the company is known for.
Today, the company produces more than 200 varieties of breads, rolls and pretzel products, supplying retail, food-service and institutional customers in both Canada and the U.S.
The key to the company’s success? According to Veit, it’s sticking to the core product and pursuing innovation in production of that product. “Our heritage bakery is really what drives R&D and keeps us close to the dough so we can understand what the dough needs: time to mature, proper hydration and all the things that make it great,” says Veit. “We constantly remind ourselves of what business we are in,” Veit says. “We are not in the cake business; we’re not in the transportation business. We are in the bread business, and we are pretty anal about not getting sidetracked with other ideas.”
Veit’s smart management of Bäckerhaus Veit led to the designation of this Mississauga-based company as one of Canada’s Best Managed. And Veit’s recent step-down from her combined president-CEO role is a case in point. The hire of Farhad Pochkhanawala as company president to handle day-to-day operations, freed Veit to do what she excels at: pursuing innovation and growth.
The partnership is working. “We work really well together. [Pochkhanawala] considers a lot of different angles than I do as an entrepreneur,” Veit says. “You need somebody who can take your ideas and harness them into something manageable so you don’t kill yourself.”