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Dear Customers,

                I vaguely remember an elementary teacher of mine pronouncing, in a fit of pique, that I had gotten “too big for my britches!”  By “vaguely”, I mean that whenever somebody criticized me I usually relegated the incident to that part of my brain I don’t visit often – or ever.  So, the memories can become a little vague! 

                I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean that my pants were getting a little tight or that I’d experienced a sudden growth spurt.  It was merely her way of telling me that she was in charge, lest I forget, which I routinely did.  The only takeaway I took away from that encounter was a new “cliché” that I’ve used a time or two my own self;  Too Big for One’s Britches! 

                That particular phrase comes to mind whenever I hear of an organization or maybe a company who, at one time, was king of the hill only to suffer a fall-off in importance, business and eventually ceased to exist.  Consider the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.  You may remember them as A & P grocery stores.  They were in operation in this country for 156 years encompassing some 16,000 stores around the country.  Now, the only thing left of them is their signature coffee brand, Eight O’Clock!  Or how about the Roman Empire?  At one time they encompassed and controlled most of the then known world.  Where are they today?  Mostly in history books.

                 History is full of companies who, at one time were virtually untouchable and now are defunct.  Two weeks ago, on June 4th, we elected to switch our private label (Shurfine) bread products from Bimbo Bakeries to Schwebel.  Frederick G. Stroehmann started his bread baking company way back in 1892.  Thirty years later, Wonder Bread was spun off and became its own bakery.  In 1927, Stroehmann brothers introduced a radical new product; sliced bread and the Grampa Stroehmann icon was born!  Over the years, Stroehmann Bakeries absorbed most of the competing bread companies around the area, growing into a virtual monopoly in these parts, until they too were absorbed by Bimbo Bakeries USA.  Bimbo in turn absorbed in addition to Stroehmann, Entenmann’s, Sara Lee, Freihofer’s, Arnold’s and Thomas’ back in 2008.

                  Bimbo Bakeries USA is the American corporate arm of the Mexican multinational bakery company, Grupo Bimbo.  What passes for customer service in Mexico, however, falls way short of our expectations or at least what we were used to with Stroehmann.  Shorted orders, late orders, damaged orders and orders that ended up at the wrong store were just some of the problems that we dealt with over the last 10 years.  For instance, before, on a busy holiday weekend, if we found ourselves running short on bread, hotdog or hamburger buns, we had only to call the Stroehmann depot and they would run over a stack so that we, and ultimately you, wouldn’t be out of stock.   Nowadays, keeping with Bimbo’s corporate policy of zero left-overs, there are no extra rolls or loaves of bread available in an emergency.  Their answer to us is, “keep better records and you won’t run short!”  But weekend bun sales are completely weather driven, particularly during the summer months.  If it suddenly gets hot and sunny, bun sales soar.  No amount of record keeping can foresee that. 

                  To make a long story shorter . . . you’re going to notice more and more Schwebel products and some better prices on our Shurfine private label items from now on.  Good news for them and a little less so for Bimbo.  Maybe they just got too big for their britches.