Business Profiles FS/Greyston Bakery

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Business Profiles FS


Greyston Bakery

Information:
Greyston Website
Greyston Bakery Wikipedia Article
Greyston Bakery Facebook Page

How it Started:

Greyston Bakery was established in 1982, launched by a $30,000 loan to a Zen Buddhist meditation group headed by Roshi Bernard Tetsugen Glassman (source). The largest part of Glassman's efforts is to help the homeless; particularly those living on the streets in his home state, New York. Greyston Bakery was his endeavor to both apply the values of Zen Buddism to business and to alleviate homelessness in underprivileged neighborhoods through an open-door employment policy. He originally opened shop in the Bronx in 1982. In 1987, the bakery moved to Southwest Yonkers, a town where 18.5% of the population is below the poverty line.(source). Every element of Glassman's business assisted the homeless in some way; workers received support and on-the-job training and a portion of profits went to building public housing (source). Today, the Bakery is but a slice of Greyston Foundation programming for the city of Southwest Yonkers, the benefits of which include workforce development, low-income housing, community gardens, and child care and after school programs. Greyston Bakery accounts for about 40 percent of the foundation's revenue (source).

Competitors:

General Mills
Bimbo Foods Bakeries (New York Bakery)
The Brownie Baker (brownie wholesale supplier)

Company Strategy:

Greyston Bakery is equally dedicated to being profitable and to benefiting its local and global community, making it a social enterprise. The company makes use of a number of environmental initiatives that reduce its impact on the environment, and community initiatives that offer support for its employees and their families. Examples of these include their Solar Baking method (utilizing energy from solar panels)and their job placement program for graduate employees. Through partnerships with similarly-minded companies such as Ben & Jerry's and Whole Foods, Greyston holds its customers and suppliers to the same responsibilities to which it holds itself. However, the crux of the operation has always been the economic support the business offers Southwest Yonkers and thus, profitability is a necessity. These partnerships are economically supportive because they are forged with established companies that have devoted niche consumer bases. In addition, Greyston's identity as a B Corporation allows for donations from consumers and other companies. For example, Green Mountain Energy gifted to Greyston the solar panels they now use to power their baking operations.

The Greyston Foundation has a small Board of Directors (six members) and the bakery has its own corresponding board. However, each board has some overlap of members who also serve elsewhere, such as on the Executive Team or Wisdom Council. Greyston Bakery has a President and CEO separate from that of the Foundation as a whole (source).

The majority of the bakery's business is the wholesale production of brownies for inclusion in other companies' products. A challenge that Greyston Bakery may face is securing a steady consumer base of its own. Customers have the option of ordering both wholesale and retail brownies through the physical and online store, however, Greyston Bakery has a limited variety of products. Still, the brownies are reasonably priced and their reputation as being not only delicious but supportive of a cause helps Greyston generate the 10 million dollars in annual revenue that it does(source). In their 2014 Annual Report, the company estimated that it had baked 4,682,483 pounds of brownies to date (source). Greyston Bakery faces no shortage of employees. Indeed, their popular open-door hiring policy necessitates a waiting list of applicants that they turn to when one of their employees "graduates" the Greyston program. And while there is a high turnover rate during the employee training period, the average tenure of workers is about three years (source).