After Merger, Baking Group Kicks Education Up a Notch

The American Bakers Association’s recent acquisition of the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers’ Association is already showing results in the form of an expanded education program that one big-name manufacturer is already using.

With a fresh batch of workers redefining its business, Kellogg has a lot of training to do.

The company, known for both its cereals and its treats, is currently staring down retirements from a huge chunk of its workforce, and it’s finding that the new employees aren’t as up-to-snuff in the baking skills department.

“We focus a lot of our onboarding on people safety, food safety, and operational equipment, but one of the gaps we were seeing was in the processing area,” said Ashley Dougan, Kellogg’s director of continuous improvement, in comments reported by Baking Business. “The basic knowledge was something we took for granted in the past; people had grown up understanding basic baking skills. But we’re seeing a real gap of people who don’t have that basic knowledge.”

So, what’s the company’s solution? Easy: They reached out to the association world. Earlier this year, the American Bakers Association acquired the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers’ Association, and the resulting merger led to the creation of the Cookie & Cracker Academy, a rebranding of the former group’s B&CMA University. The expanded educational resource helped give Kellogg the help it needed.

In comments to Baking Business in July, Dave Van Laar, the former CEO of B&CMA who has helped lead the merger transition and is now serving as an ABA senior advisor, noted that the education strategy has a long history within the industry.

“CCA represents the comprehensive curricula template that cookie and cracker professionals have been using to train for decades,” Van Laar said to the website. “The training will remain the strong program we have always offered but with even more resources to provide the highest standard of education to the industry.”

For Kellogg, a customized CCA Baking Basics course was built for the cereal giant’s needs, with Van Laar helping to lead the course for a mixture of frontline workers, supervisors, and technicians. The approach was useful for the company for a number of reasons—beyond teaching newer employees the difference between good dough and bad dough, the educational process helped build engagement between newer employees and those with significant experience.

“By the end of the training, we’ve got the seasoned employee, who does the same job on the same shift as the new person and say, ‘I’m going to look out for you; I’m going to make sure you learn the process and understand what you need to know to be successful,’” Van Laar said in comments to Baking Business earlier this month.

(sykono/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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