The American Society of Baking (A.S.B.) will induct four industry leaders into the Baking Hall of Fame during special ceremonies at BakingTech 2020 to be held March 1-3, 2020, at the Chicago Hilton hotel. They and their affiliated organizations are:
- Gary Brodsky, East Balt Bakeries Co.
- Antonio Gonzalez Navarro, Grupo Bimbo
- Amos R. McMullian, Flowers Foods
- Gordon Smith, Smith Bakeries
“This year’s nominations for the Baking Hall of Fame gave us a tremendous choice among the movers and shakers in our field,” said Rowdy Brixey, chair of the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee and president of Brixey Engineering, Inc., Holt, Mo. “More than two dozen names were offered, and the committee thanks all those who supported individuals for the coming year’s honors.”
An industry visionary, Gary Brodsky, vice-president of operations (retired), East Balt Bakeries Co. (now Grupo Bimbo), changed the way bakeries around the world supply the fast food sector. In addition to innovating how such bakeries operate to provide consistent baked goods on an international basis, Mr. Brodsky developed a supplier covenant among encompassing diverse vendors to build and support the multiple plants necessary for the company’s and McDonald’s expansion. During his tenure as chair of A.S.B., he inaugurated the Baking Hall of Fame. That gift has impacted the lives of many industry legends and their families. Before joining East Balt, Mr. Brodsky managed bakery operations for Banquet Foods, Brownberry Ovens and Arnold Bakers. He continues his service to bakers by consulting for McDonald’s APMEA region, helping to startup and work on quality issues for McDonald’s bakeries in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Indonesia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India and, most recently, Jordan.
A technology leader, Antonio Gonzalez Navarro, global engineering vice-president (retired), Grupo Bimbo, used his leadership and technical skills to help the company expand into widely varied North, Central and South American markets. An active partner from the initial design through installation and startup, Mr. Gonzalez strategically deployed new technologies at greenfield locations, as well as existing sites. Starting as an engineering trainee at Bimbo, the next 44 years saw him progress through engineering positions at various company bakeries to chief of new installations, manager of new projects and 25 years as head of global engineering. Mr. Gonzalez’s leadership assisted the company to grow from five facilities to more than 100 locations in 17 counties today. His suppliers describe him as a fair, open, humble and intelligent professional who established Bimbo as a global leader in technology — an icon for the industry. He was an inspirational leader who built the teams necessary to achieve the company’s ambitious productivity and performance goals. He also found time to mentor many engineers who succeeded under his leadership and have now reached top positions in the baking industry.
A consummate businessman, Amos R. McMullian, president, C.E.O. and chairman (retired), Flowers Foods, presided over the growth of the company from a regional baked foods producer to America’s second-largest baking company. His leadership included development of the baking industry’s first $1 billion brand: Nature’s Own. During his 56-year career with Flowers, he rose from assistant controller through roles as plant manager, regional vice-president, division president and, ultimately, to lead the business as president, C.E.O. and chairman. Gifted with a keen insight into business in general and baking specifically, Mr. McMullian matched his commitment to building the company with his genuine devotion to its employees and associates. His tenure at Flowers involved more than 60 mergers and acquisitions. Mr. McMullian took the growth strategies of his mentor, W.H. Flowers Jr., a previous Baking Hall of Fame inductee, and strategically diversified the company into other food categories. Under his leadership, Flowers implemented a new generation of wholesale bakeries to support high-quality product lines using state-of-the-art computerized equipment, well-trained staff technicians and efficient high-tech operations. As an advocate of free enterprise, he helped lead the establishment of the Flowers Foods’ FLOPAC, one of the nation’s first political action committees, and the American Baking Association’s BreadPAC.
A forefather of the modern baking industry, Gordon Smith will be inducted into the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame not only as founder of Smith Bakeries (now Bimbo Bakeries USA) but also as organizer of the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry (A.T.B.I.), a trade association unique in the food industry. As a young man, Mr. Smith started up a wholesale bread and bun bakery in Mobile, Ala., in 1899 that would grow with the times, employing new technologies. He ran that business as owner and chairman until his passing at age 92 in 1974. When CooperSmith Bakeries acquired Smith’s in 1989, that transaction ignited restructuring of the wholesale baking industry. Mr. Smith believed in fair business practices and that the relationship between customer and supplier must benefit both. By 1920, he became increasingly concerned about the fractious nature of the baking trades, rife with acrimony between competitors and poaching of accounts. To foster comity, he challenged the salesmen who called on his bakery to adopt better relations through participating in a professional association of their peers. The idea caught on, and A.T.B.I. was formed to foster this change. The group has survived the test of time, helping its members grow in their personal and professional relationships, and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020.
“We can all learn from the individuals we elect to the Baking Hall of Fame,” Mr. Brixey said. “They embody the best of the industry and have earned not only our deep respect but also this coveted place in baking’s legacy. Speaking for all members of the evaluation committee, it is an honor for us to evaluate their accomplishments. They inspire our future by their examples.”
Since its launch in 2006, the Baking Hall of Fame will have enshrined 87 individuals as of 2020. They come from all walks of life in the baking industry — from bakeries, allied equipment and ingredient suppliers, schools, service organizations and publishers. Their accomplishments can be read at www.asbe.org. Click on “About Us” and then “The Baking Hall of Fame.” This website also provides forms and instructions for nominating industry leaders for future induction into the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame.