Don Grant’s parents founded Grant’s Bakery in 1956 and he started there at the ripe age of 9. Now president and treasurer, he still works the pie line, decorates cakes, keeps the books and could tell you how many rolls were made on May 18, 2000, (360), how many angel cakes on May 18, 2005, (60) or how many pies on May 18, 2011, (149).

1. Demand spikes at holidays. How do you forecast how many pies, hot cross buns or star-spangled cupcakes to make? And what flavors?

We have daily production worksheets dating back to 2000. We can go back and see how much we made and what was left for any day. It’s frequently helpful to be able to go back on a holiday that changes days of the week and see what you did last time it was on that day of the week. We can increase production by how much business has changed since then. Holidays, like Christmas, we have notes and production sheets that stack up to 1 inch thick with comments about what worked well and what didn’t.

So basically, we look back to last year and the last time the holiday fell on that day of the week. It is amazing to see how many times that the notes from last year are not as good as the notes from the last time it was the same day of the week.

I love Thanksgiving — it falls on the same day of the week and about the same time of year all the time, and it is mostly pies and rolls. Easy holiday to predict. Easter falls on the same day of the week, but can be in March or April. Sometimes it is during school vacation, sometimes it is snowing, sometimes it is hot. Less predictable, but not too bad.

2. What’s the best piece of advice another business owner passed along?

Know what your costs are and price it accordingly.

3. What’s a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Having a second location is not all that it’s cracked up to be. We had two locations for three years and found it to be way more work than it was worth. We had customers calling one store to order and then showing up at the other store to pick up and getting mad at us because they were at the wrong store … way too much grief.

4. What issue at the state or national level are you following? How could it effect the bakery?

The (Food and Drug Administration) is looking to ban trans fats, which basically are solid shortenings. There is some data out there that suggests that trans fats are the leading cause of obesity. Personally, I think that obesity is caused by the lack of personal control and not consuming in moderation. For the last two years, we have been looking at different replacement shortenings. There are several out there that could replace all-purpose-type shortenings for cookies, bread and pie dough.

For us, our cakes and frosting are what our reputation is built on. We have yet to find a shortening to replace the high-ratio shortenings which are used in frosting. They do not have the same flavor profile, they have a very limited temperature range to remain stable — too hot and they melt, too cold and they get grainy and don’t handle well. Cost is the other factor. The replacement shortenings are 10 to 25 percent more (expensive).

So the FDA is most likely going to ruin our reputation for delicious cakes and possibly put us out of business if they pass this mandate and we aren’t able to find a suitable replacement. In my opinion, if they won’t ban booze and cigarettes, which we know kill people, why are they trying to ban trans fats?

5. If you received a $1 million grant tomorrow, no strings attached, what would you invest it in?

A larger, more modern facility.

6. You’re stranded on Frye Island for the summer. You’re allowed one dessert. What is it?

Chocolate chip cannoli. The filling is to die for. I like putting it on most anything and everything. Cupcakes, cookies, chocolate cream cake shell, in a cream puff shell. I try not to overdo it and eat several of these cannoli every day. So instead, when I make them, I frequently will put some on broken pieces of the cannoli shell and not consume an entire cannoli . . . if I didn’t do that, I would have to work even harder than I do to keep my profile from growing out of control.

Six Questions for the CEO is a monthly feature on the faces and names that keep business interesting. Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.