Two and a half years ago, our bakery set upon an initiative to dramatically reduce our waste and create a smaller footprint. We did not intend nor anticipate the fundamental changes that would come. At our most wasteful, we were generating nearly 1.6MM pounds of trash annually destined for the landfill. It had a devasting impact on our bottom line financially, emotionally, and environmentally.
Through a series of efforts that included teams from purchasing, QA, sales, operations, and sanitation, 2020 saw a reduction in that number by over 1MM pounds. Those 30 months of work have resulted in new equipment, new formulations, new processes, new packaging, and a composting program that have forever altered how we do business.
We never could have imagined the overall impact to reducing the number of trips to the dumpster. Trash talking works. It has been a rallying cry for our production teams and has given us a metric to gauge both ongoing performance and new opportunities.
Josh Allen is the Founder of Companion Baking. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Allen was immersed in the food and baking industry from an early age. His great-grandfather founded Allen Foods, a well-known broadline food distributor with a large customer base across the Midwest. Allen spent much of his childhood delivering groceries to various foodservice operations, cleaning the freezers and sweeping the trucks for his family’s business.
In 1991, Allen earned his degree in American Studies from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Following graduation, Allen remained in the Bay Area working for various artisan bakers and grocery stores including Whole Foods Market and the Oakville Grocery Co., where he gained valuable baking experience and learned what it took to operate a business.
With a dream of opening a baking facility of his own, Allen returned home to St. Louis in 1993 and leased a small corner of a manufacturing facility operated by his family to create Companion Baking. He started with just six breads in Companion’s production line but gradually expanded the business, partnering with local and regional restaurants and grocery chains to build the customized bread programs Companion has become known for.
Today, Companion’s award-winning bread is served in more than 400 restaurants, grocery stores, and businesses around the Midwest and across the country. Allen credits his success to listening and nimbly adapting to his customers’ wants and needs. In addition to their baking operations, Companion has two cafes in the St. Louis area and has expanded to offer a small line of pastries.
Josh looks forward to continuing develop curated bread programs for regional and national multi-unit operators by helping them tell their story through bread. Outside Companion, Josh enjoys cycling, running and spending time with his five kids.