Volume 7 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

A company’s brand new identity is meaningless unless it represents a brand new game, and a brand new game is hard to create without a relevant underlying infrastructure. “Otherwise, a new branding campaign is just smoke and mirrors,” says Robert Drago, leader of a company that just changed its name.
That company is Fleischer’s Bagels, and it’s now known as Bakewise Brands, Inc. – a name change that the enterprise felt would better describe its new corporate identity.

The new name coincides with Fleischer’s 40th anniversary. “But just a coincidence,” says Drago.

Indeed, Drago. – Bakewise Brands’ president since 2008. – and his dedicated associates have more important things to think about than blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. They’re highly focused on taking to the next level their longstanding partnerships with retailers, food service distributors and national brand marketers.

“But I’ll say this,” says Drago, “the coincidence seems appropriate. It’s a tribute to a company that has endured for four decades in an industry that’s become more competitive each year.”

Survival in such a tough market rests upon a robust infrastructure, and that’s what Bakewise builds upon. As such, the name change is far more than superficial. The company conducted numerous ideation sessions with its local marketing agency (Telesco Design) to determine how best to articulate its strategic vision. Together, they decided that the name “Bakewise Brands” best characterized where the company has been – it’s solid foundation – and where it’s heading, “For the next 40 years and beyond,” as Drago puts it.

The name change was viewed as a key driver of the company’s long-term growth strategy. During its 40-year history, Fleischer’s gained a reputation as one of the nation’s leading private label bagel producers. But as customers began asking for product solutions beyond bagels, the company set out to identify opportunities to expand its capabilities. In 2009 it acquired Tom Cat Bakery, which immediately added several hundred new products to its portfolio – “as well as exciting new manufacturing and distribution capabilities,” adds Drago.

That bagel descriptive just didn’t cut it anymore.

Senior management believes the new name communicates the vision of the Fleischer’s/Tom Cat integration and how this potent combination will drive long-term growth. “We’re leveraging the combined resources of two highly established and respected bakery producers,” says Drago. “But when you look at both names. – Fleischer’s Bagels and Tom Cat Bakery. – neither accurately captures where we’re at and where we’re heading. We felt that ‘Bakewise’ better reflected our new platform. – one that boasts a wide variety of products, services and capabilities.”

With the new name came a new tagline: “Bakewise Brands – so good, you’d put your name on it.”

“We developed that tagline to communicate our commitment to creating products, formulations and packaging concepts so innovative that customers would entrust us to produce them under their own brand name,” explains Drago.

In many instances, customers do – and for a good reason: “We’re in the business of creating exciting new products for our private label and branded partners,” says Drago. “Our customers are looking for more than just quality products. They need unique new ways build their business, and we want to establish Bakewise as their ‘go to’ partner.”


When you consider the Fleischer’s and Tom Cat sides of the Bakewise business, obviously there appears a pronounced internal dichotomy, and some might consider it business schizophrenia.

“From a distance, people may not immediately see the synergy between two seemingly different entities,” concedes Drago. “One is retail focused and highly automated; the other is food service focused with a batch-style baking process. So they wonder, ‘where’s the fit.’”

To see the fit, he says, you need to look at Bakewise from the 30,000-foot perspective. “Many of Tom Cat’s signature products have tremendous growth potential within our core retail base of accounts. We have the customer, broker and distributor relationships in place to help drive these sales,” explains Drago. “Similarly, Tom Cat’s vast food service experience is opening doors in various segments of this channel that we’ve targeted for bagel sales growth.”

So, it’s not schizophrenia; it’s complementary. The bottom line goal is sustainable sales growth. Synergism is a better way to define how Bakewise is bringing Fleischer’s and Tom Cat together. “When you’re talking about delivering value-added bakery solutions, the Bakewise model is really coming together,” observes Drago. “Leveraging our combined resources creates an exciting opportunity for ‘one plus one to equal three’ for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

In line with this, Drago indicates that Bakewise was created to respond to industry demands. “Companies want to consolidate their supplier relationships,” he says, “and Bakewise is proud to offer creative solutions driven by nearly 65 years of combined bakery expertise.”

So, the Bakewise name change really indicates a transition from the old to the new. What made the company successful in the previous 40 years has been revamped for the next 40 years. As Drago concludes, Bakewise looks forward to an exciting future.

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