Continuous Improvement

by Nathan Vande Walle

Our family bakery, Uncle Mike's, was founded by my parents, Mike and Mary, in 2001. In December of 2020, my father passed away and is so deeply missed. This past year of 2021 was a very difficult year for us, as we had to adjust to a new reality. Between losing a couple of key bakers and learning some of the new tasks that only my father had previously done, it was a lot to take on. It has been a slow and tough process, but my mother, sister, and I have been able to learn our new roles and have pressed on to continue on our journey of offering the best bakery experience to our community.

My father was a very talented baker from his many years of experience in the baking industry, starting at the young age of 16 in his own parents bakery in Shawano, WI. He always wanted to make sure he was doing his best to create the best product. He always had the “make-it-from-scratch” mentality and didn't want to cut any corners. Whenever he noticed that a baker was straying away from the proper method, he would get them set back on the right path to ensure we were offering the best possible products.

A recent example of an item that needed improvement is our croissants. We sell white, whole grain, and chocolate croissants Monday through Friday, and also use them for our breakfast and lunch sandwiches that are available at our Green Bay and Suamico locations. My dad would always say, “You know it is a great croissant if crumbs cover your shirt when you bite into it.” Our home-made croissants have been fine over the past year, but not quite top-notch. Now that we have gotten through the holiday rush, we have been able to sit down with the main bakers to troubleshoot the process and see what needed to change. I am excited to announce we have been able to get back to that amazing croissant look and texture. A great croissant is hard to come by, but I believe we have the knowledge and process to produce great tasting and looking croissants. You can see the many layers of the croissant and taste the European butter that we use. I highly recommend trying a trying a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese sandwich the next time you stop in our Green Bay or Suamico locations, and let us know what you think!

Because we make hundreds of different products, now and then, there are quality issues. Sometimes an ingredient is missed in mixing, maybe a batter gets over-mixed, and other times, the process just evolved a bit over time when a new employee took over a certain task. There are many different things that can alter a product and we can't taste-test every product every day. We are always open to hearing from customers about issues with our products. Please give us a call or send us an email if you feel there is an issue with one of our products. Our goal at Uncle Mike's is to sell high quality baked goods, and we will continue to work hard to ensure we are offering the best products and make improvements as needed.

- Nathan

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