Local Franco battles Goliath
Franco French Baking Co., although relatively small, holds its own against large corporate rivals.
The Sparks-based bakery has a long history but grew to its present size only after Jack Gant, and his now-retired partner, Phil Jurach, bought the company in 1973.
Gant, very much a hands-on owner, these days is joined by his son, Tim Gant, and Craig Morris, the son-in-law of Jurach, in managing the company.
“I started here working as summer vacation relief when I was at Reed High School,” said Tim Gant.”After college I worked for Wonder Bread for a year then came here in 1985.”
An injury,meanwhile, brought Morris to the baking industry.
“I worked in construction until I was hurt,”Morris said.”Phil (Jurach) is my fatherin- law and he offered me a position in 1993.
Since there was no opportunity in masonry, I went to work here in production.”
Now Morris manages production and bakery operations while Tim Gant is the head of sales.
And they added,with a laugh, that both have “/engineer,” added to their job descriptions.
While Gant and a representative are looking for new customers, the majority of the company’s sales staff is always in the field.
“Our delivery drivers are also route salesmen,” Gant said.”They are paid commissions, order products, rotate stock as well as load their trucks and deliver the products.”
Making sure the customers get their products is something Franco French prides itself on.
This was tested during Nevada’s recent heavy snowstorms, and despite working some 18-hour days, the drivers did get the products to the customers.
Morris pointed out one advantage to Franco French’s smaller size.
“While we still have a schedule, one part of the business is being able to provide a lastminute order for our customers,”Morris said.
Jack Gant later explained that Franco French usually can process and deliver an order with a day’s notice while their larger rivals need from three to five days to accomplish the same thing, and must ship their products from California.
Quality products are another key to the success of Franco French.
While the entire bakery staff is dedicated to this goal,members of one crew have a special place in this effort as they determine when products are ready for the baking ovens.
While it sounds simple, it isn’t.
Experience, and knowing just how the dough should feel and look, is necessary in determining when it should be baked.
Jack Gant’s other son, Brian,works on this crew.
Challenges are just part of the world Franco French operates in.
“Being able to change with the times, give the customers what they want in new breads and do that in a productive way is a challenge,” Morris said.
Tim Gant said,”Another huge challenge is keeping up with the price increases for ingredients, insurance and utilities.Health insurance has doubled in the last 10 years and it’s competitive out there.We need price increases to offset costs but we’re competing against big corporations.” The company’s larger rivals determine the prices products can be sold at.
Franco French Baking’s managers keep a close eye on maintaining the company’s market share and profit margins.
“In northern Nevada,we’re the largest local independent bakery,” Gant said.”And,we have the largest fleet of route trucks in the area.”
Looking toward the future, Gant is optimistic,” The area is growing and we should grow with it.”
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada said his organization is “very concerned about disruptions to the supply chain.”