As her first official act as president of the Retail Bakers of America, Freeport Bakery co-owner Marlene Goetzeler persuaded the group to bring its January road show to Sacramento instead of San Francisco.
“We go out to a town, like the next one’s in Austin in October,” Goetzeler said. “We do a full day of hands-on workshops, bakery tours, a lunch, and all the local bakers, bakery employees, cake decorators, students, veterans of the culinary industry attend. It’s just this great day of sharing.”
So far, Goetzeler said, winning a road show for Sacramento is the best part of being president. She’s been on the board of the bakers association for seven years. Her two-year term as president officially began last weekend.
“Years ago, probably about 20-plus, the RBA had a free-standing building in Washington, D.C., lots of money in the bank, 26 paid staff members and a CD worth a lot of money,” Goetzeler said. “Fast-forward to two years ago, we had no building. We had no money in the bank. We had enough money to probably make it through three months of pay cycles.”
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To get on sound financial footing, Goetzeler and the rest of the board downsized the staff and went with a virtual office. Also, because many bakers were getting information from the Internet rather than from attending the annual meeting, the board did away with the yearly convention. Instead, they decided to meet every two or three years, piggybacking on the International Baking Industry Expo in Las Vegas. They also launched an online advice forum where members can ask questions. The forum came in really handy a few years ago when Goetzeler had a problem getting her key lime pies to turn out perfectly.
“I said, ‘I need some help. This is what’s going on,’ and within an hour, there were six answers,” Goetzeler said. “Try this, try that, from bakers all over the country, and we started with the first one and it worked. That’s the kind of resources we have. We don’t have people saying, ‘I’m not going to tell you my secrets or my tricks.’ We have people who share.”
Since Retail Bakers made the changes, Goetzeler said, the organization is growing again. She’s hoping the Sacramento road show rivals or beats the one in Seattle, where 100 bakers attended.
A revolution in 3-D
At Rancho Cordova’s E-filliate and at other companies around the region, the 3-D printer is changing how manufacturing and design is getting done.
“The 3-D printer is an indispensable tool,” said Wes Sumida, the founder and chief executive of E-filliate. “Because of the nature of our business – manufacturing in Asia, designing here and having them make things – it’s sped up the process for us probably tenfold.”
E-filliate designs accessories for smartphones and other gadgets, but Sumida depends on Chinese manufacturers to produce them. His Tech & Go earbuds, car chargers, portable iPod speakers and such are so affordable that they are impulse buys at Walgreens. Before Sumida invested roughly $20,000 in a 3-D printer, manufacturers had to ship samples from China.
“We’d say to them, ‘Make this more rounded here. Put a radius on this. Take this edge off,’ but so much was lost in interpretation,” Sumida said. “It was like playing pingpong. We’d go back and forth so many times, just on the last 5 percent of the details on an item. That took 90 percent of our time.”
Now, the Chinese manufacturer sends a file as an email attachment. E-filliate’s staff print the sample on the 3-D printer, and then they make design changes in the computer file. A design process that once took months, Sumida said, now takes weeks, sometimes days.
“It’s not a rough model,” Sumida said. “It’s dead-on. We’ve made things like a clip and buckle that are completely usable.”
Vintage auto collector Jay Leno has a 3-D printer, Sumida said, and uses it to produce decorative car parts that are no longer manufactured. As companies such as MakerBot drastically reduce the cost of such printers, Sumida said, they will become common in U.S. homes. It takes some training to learn the 3-D design program, Sumida said, but 3-D scanners are making even that easier.
How’s my driving?
Shoppers who bike over to Taylor’s Market, at 2900 Freeport Blvd. in Sacramento, have been asking owners Danny and Kathy Johnson: What did you guys do with the bike rack?
“Last Friday morning, our produce driver, I guess it was his first time here, he said he didn’t see it, and he just took it out,” Danny Johnson said. “He drove right over the top of it. He was going forward. He took off the side of his cab on the passenger side. He’s lucky he didn’t take out the engine.”
When the Johnsons put the bike rack in five years ago, he had motorists complaining that he was messing up the parking lot, Johnson said, but now that it’s gone, cyclists are complaining that they don’t have a spot to lock their bikes. Johnson expects to have a new rack in place within a couple of months, courtesy of his produce company. In answer to the question on the back of the delivery truck, “How’s my driving?” Johnson summed it up for the driver in two words: “Not good.”