Four generations of Toufayans have created a company that is making a difference in the specialty bakery segment. The next step is to make the brand a household name.
The Ridgefield, N.J.-based company, run by four generations of the same family, has thrived for nearly 90 years because of its commitment to quality and a close-knit operation that knows where to pick its battles in the complex world of retailing.
So, while the company has racked up impressive sales growth over the years, Toufayan Bakeries is far from a household name with consumers. The family that runs the company would like to change that. They are embarking on an aggressive campaign to build brand awareness of the company and help it continue its growth.
It does not hurt that Toufayan is squarely placed in the middle of a hot category.
Consumers are eagerly searching for quality specialty bakery products that will enhance their at-home dining experiences, and the more variety the better—especially for consumer palates that demand something different at virtually every meal.
Toufayan more than fits the bill, producing more than 100 SKUs across the pita, flat breads, bagels, smart pockets, wraps, cookies and buns segments from a 250,000 square-foot automated baking facility in Orlando, Fla. as well as other facilities in Plant City, Fla. and at its headquarters in Ridgefield. The company has about 250 employees scattered among its various locations.
“It is all about hard work,” says Harry Toufayan, the patriarch of the family and CEO of the company that now employees two of his daughters and one son. “We work hard to make sure we offer the best quality product that is always delivered on time to our retailers from our various facilities. Then we back this up with innovation and making sure that we offer our retail partners the very best across a number of bakery categories.”
The American dream
The Toufayan journey is an American success story. The family moved to the U.S. in 1963, nearly 40 years after starting a bakery abroad. In 1969, Toufayan started a bakery in West New York, N.J and soon realized that there was a market for its pita bread—virtually unheard of in the marketplace at that time—at supermarkets. “We quickly found out that pita bread offered us a great opportunity for big growth,” he says. “We wanted to get our products into supermarkets and, since we were a major manufacturer of pita bread in Egypt, we knew the product. We started to convince retailers to carry pita and put it in the deli section away from the bread items to be unique.”
The next step was getting fresh—instead of frozen—products to retailers. By 1975, the company was able to open a small facility in Florida to service retailers in that region. Growth came at a steady pace after that and now, with his children involved and with some of his eight grandchildren sure to get into the business, Harry is pretty confident that future leadership of the company is in the right hands. His daughter Karen is the vice president of sales and marketing; daughter Kristine is vice president of finance; and his son Greg is COO.
“With my family, the plans are to expand the Plant City facility and offer even more products in the future,” Toufayan says.
However, taking the company to the next level requires an increase in its marketing program and a strategy to make the company better known to consumers and retailers. Besides the plan to keep introducing items throughout the specialty bakery category, the company plans to unveil new packaging early this year that will more easily allow consumers to see the nutritional benefits of the products.
“We have spent a lot of time and money making sure that we have packaging that illustrates the type of company we are and the quality of the brand,” says Karen Toufayan. “We want to make sure the packaging protects the product, gets our nutritional message out to consumers and makes them more aware of our name.”
Like so many other brands, Karen adds that the company’s goal is to simply get consumers more familiar with the Toufayan name. “Our company has been operating under the radar for so many years,” she says. “Now we want to start an initiative to get consumers to see our logo, recognize the brand and realize right away that they know it. Our new slogan is ‘Since 1926, families have been relying on the fresh taste of Toufayan.’”
Spreading the word
There are other initiatives too. The company has embarked on a public relations campaign, trying to get included on television talk shows, cooking magazines and local radio programming. “We have all the pieces of a great company,” says Greg Toufayan. “And it is fun to talk about. For example, we offer the lowest cost pita on the market, with great new packaging and the best quality. Now we want to get the word out.”
Greg also points to the company’s product innovation program as a prime example of its ability to expand. “Gluten-free is another avenue we are exploring thanks to the expansion of our facilities,” he says. “I think gluten-free lends itself to wraps.”
In the end, the family says it is their willingness to work 24/7 that has helped Toufayan stand out and will take it into the future. “Frankly, we come to work everyday to be together,” says Karen. “Our fingers are constantly on the pulse of our industry. We eat and sleep this company 100% of the time. It is a great energy that has helped us build a great company. We are just so excited about the future.”