Bäckerhaus Veit: One of Canada’s most successful female entrepreneurs continues family tradition
By: Fadekemi Adegbuyi
In 2012, Profit Chatelaine recognized Sabine Veit, President and CEO of Bäckerhaus Veit, as one of Canada’s most successful female entrepreneurs. One must look no further than her endless capacity for creativity and innovation and her company’s unwavering commitment to supplying consumers with high quality artisan bread, rolls and soft pretzels to deem this accolade, and the many others she and her company have received, as well-deserved.
Inspired by her family’s bread-making tradition, dating back to the 1920s in Germany, Veit’s foray into entrepreneurship occurred when she was 26 years old. In 1987, she started a Canadian fresh bakery delivery service from scratch. “We specialized in European breads, cakes, pastries and delivered them to local retailers,” she says. Despite the company’s rapid growth between 1987 and 1990, Veit was unsatisfied and sought to extract herself from the fresh delivery industry and move on to better horizons. “The fresh delivery business was not going to take us where I wanted to go,” she relays, recalling the ambition that led her to build a new 34,000 square foot frozen manufacturing facility in 1993, a massive upgrade from her preceding 7,000 square foot facility, followed by another expansion to 54,000 square feet in 2004.
Soon afterwards, Bäckerhaus Veit sought out business in the United States and started delivering frozen products to large retail chains. The firm streamlined their product offerings and eliminated sweets like croissants and danishes and focused solely on artisan products – an approach they still adhere to today. Their products include their artisan breads, rolls and buns, as well as soft Bavarian style pretzels. In describing Bäckerhaus Veit’s transformation since inception, Veit says, “We went essentially from a small time fresh delivery bakery, to a sophisticated frozen North-American wide operation.” Electing not to build their own brand, Bäckerhaus Veit continues to experience sustained growth as a private label manufacturer.
Despite its history as a European-style artisan bakery with 85 years of European bread making traditions, Bäckerhaus Veit operates as a privately-held, single-owner minority-owned company. “It’s a good thing to be,” says Veit, “you stay nimble and close to the market. You’re close to your customers and you’re always trying to be better and have better products,” she continues. “I live and work in a male-dominated space, being a female entrepreneur has never been a negative and I’ve never felt disadvantaged,” she says, mentioning also Bäckerhaus Veit’s association with WEConnect International; a non-profit organization and an affiliate of WBENC in the United States, that certifies firms are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and facilitates opportunities and introductions.
Today, the firm is a British Retail Consortium certified company that has been awarded an ‘A’ rating for three consecutive years by the leading trade association. “That’s not easy to come by at our size,” Veit says. Additionally, all of their products are certified Kosher Pareve, conforming to the rigorous standards of the Kashruth Council of Canada.
In maintaining their distinction from other companies in the food and beverage industry, Bäckerhaus Veit credits its committed and dedicated team of staff who work diligently to better the company every day. “I have a fantastic team; I have a committed management and production team. I have people who have been with me for over 20 years and we have a lot of knowledge,” says Veit. Shop floor improvements are important to the firm. “We’re not automated to the extent that our competitors are,” says Veit, “we’re able to listen to our customers and being a batch-driven company and custom house enables us to respond much quicker than our competitors,” she adds.
In order to continuously improve their products, streamline their processes, and provide solutions to their customers, Bäckerhaus Veit invests considerably in research and development each year. Their solutions are based on the latest food trends and market intelligence. They remain market leaders in par-baking technology and utilize their own customized “shock” high-humidity freezing technology, both of which allow for the highest freshness of their bread products. “We love innovating and giving our customers a different taste experience,” says Veit. Going forward, Bäckerhaus Veit will be moving from their current expanded 54,000 square foot facility to a much larger 100,000+ square foot facility in 2015. The firm will also be exploring additional distribution in food service, retail, and individually packaged products.