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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Keep Employees Happy

There are nearly 200 employees at Calise so the task of making sure everyone is happy is a big one.  Tony Cappozi is director of human resources and he knows people are happy because they bring their friends in when there is a job opening.

Key Question:


Make sure employees are happy!

Q: Is the goal to make sure that employees are happy really viable?

A:  Yes, and the most sophisticated leaders we know agree.  This sounds corny and too sirupy to talk about when discussing what makes a business work or not work but people will make or break you.

The human resource director at Calise says he knows people are happy because they send their friends and family to him when there is a job opening.  It's hard to argue with that.

  What other evidence did we see that must be contributing to the productivity of the workforce?

A:  We met the plant manager and found out that Mike hired Jimmy Fontaine based upon his Priest's recommendation.  We also learned that Mike sent Jimmy to school and we could see that Jimmy loves flour!  This tells us that the Calise brothers hire people with similar values and that they invest in the education of employees.

At Bridgecreek, a commercial real estate company, we met a husband and wife team who have built their company from nothing to millions in annual revenues.  We asked Cathy what her job is today and she said,  "To make sure everyone is happy."

Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, built the company from zero to about $250 million in annual sales.  She says her number one job today is to make sure that, "everyone feels good."

We know that  when people feel good they do good and when they feel bad they do bad.  Whatever you can do to increase the joy, the laughter, the good feelings and the goodwill between you and everyone on your payroll,  the better.

Think about it

Do you think the people who work for you are happy?  How do you know? 

Clip from: Calise & Sons Bakery, Providence

Providence, Rhode Island:  Visit an old New England family business. With roots back to 1908,  the Calise & Sons Bakery has been through the good times and the bad.  The founder gave the reins to his four sons and they just about ran that business into the ground. Three grandchildren came to the rescue. They bought the business, and then went to work to retire the debt. They did it, then they built the business beyond anyone's wildest expectation.

Calise & Sons Bakery now serve most of New England, New York and Pennsylvania and increasingly they'll be serving the world. Big chains and grocery stores -- The Olive Garden, Shaws and Albertsons -- depend on them. But, you know, even with such success, it is just not easy. 

The Calise brothers make bread from the same recipes their grandfather brought from Italy.  Yet, it took them nearly 30 years to bring this company back from the brink. The brothers learned on the job. Though there are no MBAs here, their management practices are now case studies in major business textbooks.

The adoption of technology and the acquisition of competitors have fueled growth and prosperity. These owners quickly learned a key big business secret -- grow by acquiring your competition.

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Calise & Sons Bakery

Michael Calise, VP, Sales

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Business Classification:
Food - Bakery - Bread

Year Founded:

Keep Employees Happy

HATTIE: Hard work has taken the Calises to $13 million in sales with 170 employees. Tony Cappozi is in charge of personnel. What were you doing when you first came here to work?

TONY CAPPOZI: I was working in the packing room packaging bread.

HATTIE: And how old were you?

TONY: Eighteen, maybe.

HATTIE: Eighteen. (Voiceover) I asked Tony how he finds good employees.

TONY: The majority of the people by word of mouth. Actually, we have happy employees. We keep them happy and they bring a lot of good quality help to us. By running ads or working through employment agencies, we found a minimal amount of help. Most of it is through word of mouth.

JIMMY FONTAINE: OK. This is our middle zone of our tunnel oven. Here we're checking for color to determine if we have the right baking temperature and time.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Making perfect bread requires perfect processes. Plant manager Jimmy Fontaine works closely with Mike. Mike, how'd you find Jimmy?

MIKE: I found Jimmy through a priest who was a friend of mine. He said there's a nice young boy, needed a job for the summer. He started with me when he was 16 years old. He's been with me ever since. He really got involved--he started learning all aspects of the bakery in around 21, 22. How old were you, 24?

JIMMY: Twenty-two.

MIKE: Twenty-two, he decided he wanted to make the bakery his life. So he said he wanted to learn more about it. AIB offered a home-study course.


MIKE: American Institute of Baking.


MIKE: I told him, `You take the home-study course, you pass the course, then I'll send you to school.' Took the course, passed the course, and I sent him to school in 198...

JIMMY: Nine.

MIKE: ...9, to the bakery technology course at AIB. And he's been with me ever since.

HATTIE: Do you like flour?

JIMMY: Do I like flour? Yeah, I love flour.

HATTIE: I mean, is it fascinating?

JIMMY: Yes, yes. There's a lot of chemistry behind it. A lot of people really don't understand the whole day baking, you know? There's a lot of chemistry behind the baking process.

HATTIE:  All right. Tell me, basically, why it works.

JIMMY:   Why it works...the baking process?


JIMMY:   We start with the flour. We blow it into the building. It is then added to the mixer, where we add all our minor ingredients. We add our salt, our sugar, our oil and our water. The whole bakery is computerized, straight from order entry right to distribution. All the formulas are in the computer, which any of the scalers can just go in and basically just dial in the formula. Dial in the weight that they want and a formula will come up designating how much flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, and so on and so forth.

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