From September to Thanksgiving our bakers work overtime to get pies ready for the holiday rush. The bakers have been champs about working the long days. They also haven’t been working alone. During this time of year, our office team members can be found in the bakery working alongside the bakers. Mostly they put us in places where a lot of skill isn’t required. Even our president gets in on the act, and it’s not unusual seeing Mark working on a packaging line, or pushing pies from the oven room to where they cool. Once the bakers got over the initial nervousness about having the president working next to them a lot of mutual respect began to develop.
For most of the year we don’t work on Saturdays, but during the busy time it is a must. We try and make the Saturdays they need to spend in the bakery a bit more tolerable by bringing in special treats for the bakers’ lunch break. One week it might be sweet treats, and the next it’s homemade tamales. You have to remember, the bakers are allowed to bring up anything Tippin’s makes as a snack, so it takes a special treat to get their attention.
We care a great deal about our bakers, and want to show them we appreciate everything they do. We take pride in our team.
I asked Mark, “What makes Tippin’s bakers so special?”
Our Bakers are Devoted to Tippin’s:
Many of our bakers came from the original Tippin’s restaurants. They might have started as dishwashers or busing tables, but they learned the craft of baking, and several are now in management positions. The gentlemen that runs our Oven Room Team has been with Tippin’s for 29 years. We have incredible “tribal knowledge.”
Our Bakers are High-Spirited:
Even when working overtime the bakers talk, laugh and even whistle while they work. Sometimes they even sing in chorus (but they are singing in Spanish, and my Spanish isn’t so good, so I have no idea what they’re singing).
Our Bakers are Incredibly Skilled:
Our “Cake-Angels” decorate all of our cream pies and cakes. Even though we make hundreds of thousands of them, our cream pies are like snowflakes because they are individually hand-topped: no two look alike. Except they all taste great.
Our Bakers Know their Stuff:
I asked one of them how long we whip our French Silk, and the answer was “About 90 minutes. I start watching it as 90 minutes goes by and can tell when it’s ready by looking at it.” (Try to get a machine to do that.)
Our Bakers are Over-Achievers:
During the fall, our Oven Room Team will oven-fill 8,000 Pumpkin, Pecan and Dixie pies a day. They invented a special wand to help fill the pumpkin pies, because we make so many. Our pecan and Dixie pies are filled by hand using ladles on long wooden handles. Our bigger pumpkin pies are filled twice so they get a nice even bake. If they didn’t do that the middle of the pie would never be baked quite right.
Our Bakers Don’t Take Short Cuts:
Our bakers make all of our fillings from scratch. And there is hardly anything in our pies that you wouldn’t find in your pantry at home.
Our Bakers are Team Players:
I think of the bakers as team members, and not just employees, because it is a team effort to do what we do. They all help each other and pitch in where needed. Everyone is cross-trained to do multiple jobs.
Our Bakers are Not Perfect:
We get to “eat our mistakes here,” so when we don’t make a perfect looking pie it will end up in the lunchroom. Even though it doesn’t look perfect, our mistakes eat really well.
Our Bakers have Great Tastes:
One time we had a key customer come to visit and we used the break area to sample about 50 different competitive pies (including our own). After it was over we invited the bakers to eat or take home anything they wanted. We ended up having to throw all of the competitive stuff away because they wouldn’t touch it. Made me proud.