Companion Baking is a premium bakery based in St Louis that has built a great family culture among its 120 bakers and employees. Over time, it became hard to find enough good people, and as they turned to temp to hire labor, culture suffered and expenses rose.
By bringing high quality candidates from Facebook advertising, using text messaging to quickly assess candidates, and then software to keep everything organized, The Hiring Engine has helped Companion hire great people, save time and preserve its strong family culture.
Josh Allen started Companion Baking in St. Louis in 1993 at the age of 24. His vision was clear and concise: create wholesome and delicious European breads with simple ingredients. From that beginning, they have grown into a St Louis company that employs 120 people.
From the beginning, core to Companion’s business has been focusing on the 4C’s: their Companions, their Customers, their Community, and their Company. This focus has shown in their daily commitment to baking incredible bread, building a team that operates like a family, and giving back to their community.
Before The Hiring Engine
While many of Companion’s employees have worked for the company for 20+ years, as the company has grew, finding enough of the right people became a key challenge for the business. While referrals were a good source of reliable workers, they were unpredictable and rare enough that Companion would go weeks at a time without interviews.
Two years ago, Nancie Breunig joined Companion as the Production Manager. One of her first priorities was getting the right people on the team and solving Companion’s hiring challenges. At Companion, she oversees the 80+ production employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product. She came to Companion with a deep 25 year history running other baking facilities.
Nancie had used ZipRecruiter in the past without success, so started by posting on Indeed and local job boards. She quickly found that the problem wasn’t getting applicants – it was getting the right applicants. As Nancie said described it, when they relied only on Indeed and job boards, too often they’d end up with “a whole lotta nonsense”. We’d get some applicants who’d watched a lot of television and thought that’s what a baker is. They thought we just stood around talking about buttercream.”
The issues with these candidates had visible impacts at Companion. From not showing up for interviews to getting in arguments with other co-workers, the applicants didn’t match the small company, very family oriented culture at Companion. As Nancie described it, the impact of bad employees has long-reaching impacts, including: “I don’t want to be there at 1:30 in the morning to sort out drama.” Furthermore, the lack of enough good people had financial impacts through literal wasted dough and closed production lines.