Sisters Rebecca Jane Barney and Angela Lou Fillmore, co-founders of Janey Lou’s Inc., have come a long way from selling their handmade treats to local convenience stores in the Salt Lake City area. Under the helm of nephew and son Ryan Fillmore, the Orem, Utah-based company has garnered convenience-store and foodservice customers throughout the West and Southwest.
The mountains east of Orem, Utah—home of Janey Lou’s Inc.—were dusted with snow on the day Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery visited the bakery, which was busy making stollen bread, some of which would eventually be dusted with powder sugar. Employees were also hand-making and packaging thousands of chocolate candy Crispy Treats, one of the company’s original and most popular offerings.
About eight years ago, sisters Rebecca “Becky” Jane Barney and Angela “Angie” Lou Fillmore began making their scrumptious Crispy Treats and peanut butter bars in a deli and gift shop in nearby Spanish Fork. The shop was owned by Fillmore and her husband, James. “We’d work in the middle of the night at our little deli,” recalls Fillmore. “We made everything from scratch. We couldn’t be there during the day because they were busy.”
Barney and Fillmore’s subsequent venture into retailing began through friends. “My sister and I had some friends who had a convenience store,” relates Fillmore. “We said, ‘Hey, if we make some treats, would you guys put them in your convenience store?’ They said, ‘Bring’em, let’s try it.’ That was about eight years ago.”
The sisters settled on the name, Janey Lou’s, for their fledgling company after another area business registered a name similar to the one they had initially registered. “We thought, ‘This isn’t going to work,’” says Barney. “We had to come up with something that was ours, something that no one else was going to take.”
The solution became obvious. “We’re named after our father’s older and younger sister—Janey and Lou,” explains Fillmore. “We were born on their birthdays, so that’s how we came up with the name.”
Initially, Barney and Fillmore delivered their Crispy Treats and peanut butter bars directly to convenience stores and potential customers in an old Subaru that tended to overheat occasionally. “I’d wait outside the convenience stores that we were trying to enter, to see if anyone would come out with one of our peanut butter bars or Crispy Treats,” says Barney.
“We were so excited to see if they would have any,” Fillmore adds. “Then, eventually, it led to more convenience store customers saying, ‘Hey, we saw your stuff. We want to put it in our place.’”
From sweet treats to breads
As demand for Janey Lou’s products grew, so did the company’s need for more space. Almost two years ago, it moved from the deli to two other facilities in Spanish Fork before moving to its current 15,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plant. It retains an 8,000-sq.-ft. facility in Spanish Fork for storage.
“All the production happens here,” says Ryan J. Fillmore, president and CEO and James and Angela Fillmore’s son. Besides Crispys and peanut butter bars, the company now makes an assortment of frozen-dough products, including bagels, cinnamon rolls, cookies, Danish, dessert bars, donuts and muffin batters; icings; 15 bread varieties; and individually wrapped, ready-to-sell flavored Crispy Treats, dessert bars and brownies.
The company recently began producing a 3.2-oz. Crispy Treat package for vending machines as well as breadsticks for a restaurant customer. Ryan Fillmore says biscuit dough is slated to join the lineup next.
“Our big focus this year is our gourmet cookie line that our head baker, Jared Westercamp, created about three months ago,” he says. “The winning masterpiece of this—our Choc-O-Mac—combines milk chocolate, macadamia, sweet flaked coconut and real butter. We use only real butter in our cookies, no shortening.” Also in the line are double chocolate chip, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin sugar/Snicker Doodle, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia and M&M.
“We make an exclusive cookie for a resort in Park City that was an Olympic venue in the 2002 games,” says Ryan Fillmore. “That’s a big foodservice customer for us. We also make all of the custom breads and pastries for local restaurant chains.”
Janey Lou’s cinnamon rolls, however, are its winner. “That’s what we do best,” says Ryan Fillmore. “We are poised to grow exponentially in the next year and our cinnamon rolls are at the heart of our expansion.”
Shipped frozen, Janey Lou’s cinnamon rolls are available in different formats, including in a plastic, microwaveable bowl, and ready to bake and frost—or not—by customers. “We do it all from scratch,” says Angie Fillmore of Janey Lou’s growing product line. “That’s what we really tried to keep from the very beginning. We wanted our ingredients to be good, even though they might cost a little bit more. We want to make sure that we have good-quality products.”
The people behind the products
Some of the employees helping Ryan Fillmore make Janey Lou’s top-notch products include three master bakers: Westercamp, who is also head baker and vice president of production; Fernando Molina, who has 20 years of baking experience; and Arturo Martinez, with 15 years of baking experience.
Westerkamp, who came to Janey Lou’s two years ago from Zehnder’s Bakery in Frankenmuth, Mich., has “a huge skill and passion for bread,” says Ryan Fillmore. “Jared pretty much runs all of our yeast dough product. That’s really his specialty. We produce probably 15 different types of breads, but Jared has production knowledge of more than 85 different breads. His sour starter is from Rome.”
Vice president of sales and marketing Tom McCandless joined the company in February, explains Ryan Fillmore. “Jared and I, specifically, have a lot of hats [to wear], so we’re trying to grow and get to the point where we’re a little more streamlined.”
As the company grows and becomes more successful, all of Janey Lou’s employees will benefit. “Employee-wise, we’re about creating community,” says Ryan Fillmore. “We want our people to get rewarded for their success like we do, so they feel like they’re invested. Our compensation plans are based on the company’s success.”
Investing in technology
Besides investing in its employees, Janey Lou’s has invested in equipment to enable it to create the quality and quantity of products it needs to meet current and future customer demand. Italian spiral mixers that fold, rather than mix, produce dough that’s light and flaky instead of chewy. “Jared, Fernando and Arturo are the only ones who touch our mixers,” says Ryan Fillmore.
“Our bread line is pretty high-capacity—the highest technology available right now,” he continues. “It does all of our cinnamon rolls, donuts—any type of yeast dough that extrudes. Our whole process is 13 minutes from start to finish, without hands.”
All of Janey Lou’s doughs are flash-frozen and held in the company’s freezer until they’re picked up by distributors. Those distributors deliver the goodies to a variety of customers, such as convenience stores throughout the West and Southwest, local grocers and foodservice providers in the West.
“Our biggest market is probably convenience stores,” says Ryan Fillmore. Janey Lou’s also copacks for a South San Francisco, Calif.-based marketer of fresh and broad-line supply solutions to the convenience retail industry.
It also makes products for a premier local grocer based in Salt Lake City. “They’re a co-op, so they’re both a distribution party and a retail ownership,” Ryan Fillmore explains. “They have about 500 stores. We service them with frozen dough products.”
Creating their own brands
Grocery and C-stores are both at a juncture right now that is frozen dough, says Ryan Fillmore. “Grocery stores want to get out of having mixers in their bakeries, but still maintain a quality level that says fresh-baked,” he says. “C-stores are trying to separate themselves from just selling Snickers and Reese’s, to selling products that are identified with their brand.
“I think that’s really kind of a key for us in the C-store market. We’re helping C-stores find items and opportunities that set them apart from their competition and give them some type of brand recognition.”
As a result, the company already has picked out a new, 45,000-sq.-ft. facility nearby that it plans to relocate to next year. “I think we’ll be out of here in nine months,” says Ryan Fillmore. “We have someone who will probably lease this place, so we’ll probably do that. What that will do for us is pull all of our warehousing in Spanish Fork together.” It also will prompt the company to likely double its staff.
For the two sisters who just wanted to make and sell delectable treats to local C-stores, Becky Jane Barney and Angie Lou Fillmore have come a long way. Reflects Barney, “We kind of thought, ‘Oh, this will be fun. We’ll go and do our convenience stores.’ We had always hoped that people would like our stuff and we’d grow, but nothing like this.”
And thanks to the capable leadership of Angie’s son, Ryan, Janey Lou’s has a clear-cut path of where the it wants to go, without physically leaving the Orem area.