The new buyers,
"I physically had to go down and stop them from taking things apart because they didn't think the deal was going to go through," recalled McColgan, now the company's CEO.
Today, the 104-year-old Awrey's brand is back in the pastries and cake business as it jockeys for shelf space and a sustainable business model.
The company employs 94 workers at its
The new owners reversed Awrey's controversial 1991 decision to remove its baked goods from most retail stores and focus on sales through restaurants, airlines, hotels, prisons and vending machines. For the first time in years, classic Awrey's products such as
The new company is legally known as Minnie Marie Bakers, but operates under the
Despite aggressive cost-cutting and labor concessions, Awrey's lost
In an interview, McColgan said the equity fund owners"bled this company dry."
"They took every ounce of blood you have in your body, plus whatever they could get out of your tissue," he said.
For many customers, the Awrey's name is tied to the
A few of the company's 100-plus products are based on the original recipes of
"They're still the Awrey's recipe from grandma Awrey," McColgan said.
Awrey's went on to pioneer the concept of in-store bakeries within supermarkets. At the company's peak headcount in the 1950s, it employed 4,000 workers between its bakery, supermarket counters and free-standing stores.
In 1970, the company moved its headquarters from
The Awrey family has not owned the business since the 2005 bankruptcy. A few relatives still work there, including
Close to three-quarters of Awrey's workers were unionized before the 2013 shutdown. There is no longer a union under the new corporate structure.
"We treat everybody great, at least I think we do. So we don't think there's a need for one," McColgan said.
The company doesn't disclose revenue figures, but says about 70% of its business is now retail-level sales at 300 stores, including
Previously, about 98% of the Awrey's business was in food service.
The CEO said he is trying to win back a few companies that didn't return to Awrey's products when the plant reopened.
"It's still going to take some time to convince major customers that we're here to stay, but we are here to stay," he said.
"They really have some unique items," said
Later on, if the business achieves sustained profits, it could make an attractive acquisition for a major food producer looking to expand its products, he said.
Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.
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