Here's Johnny - Family Values
When a veteran journalist hears politicians and company officials toss the word "family" about like confetti (or cracker crumbs), he's tempted to raise an eyebrow and perhaps even reach back to see if his wallet's missing. That said . On first and second glance, the owners and operators and executives of More Than A Bakery appear to be matching money and mouth. At Monday's groundbreaking (see story on page 1), company brass and politicians put their shovels not into dirt, but graham cracker crumbs. Gov. Bevin even risked leaving a few in his new beard by tasting the product before tossing it. (By the phrase "tossing it," I'm referring to the guv's work with a shovel, not losing his lunch.) Shortly after announcing the company's decision to open a $57.1 million, 250,000 square-feet plant in Versailles, president Bill Quigg met with members of the public worried about less farmland and more flooding. At a forum in the Woodford Circuit Courtroom that happened to fall on April Fool's Day, Quigg answered tough questions politely and didn't hesitate to ask for help from other company officials when he didn't have an answer. The company also helped sponsor the Versailles 4th of July festivities - more than a year before they'll begin making any money here. On Monday, there was an empty chair on the riser for Quigg's father, James, who died in June of 2015, and Bill Quigg's wife, Felicia, presented James's widow with flowers. Later, he called Felicia his "right hand," and his brother Rob is the treasurer of the company and its charitable foundation. After the ceremony, I asked bakery public relations-type Ann Crawford about timetables for construction, production and hiring. She referred me to her husband, Derek, whose job title is "director of family growth." I don't know whether that refers to hiring (company brass call their employees "family members") or encouraging workers to have more children, but it has a nice ring to it. (Ann Crawford also did the crowd a good turn when she emailed the speakers ahead of time and asked them to keep their remarks between three and five minutes. One of them whose name will not be divulged today set what may be a personal record for brevity.) The company received healthy local and state tax breaks, a free water and sewer hook-up and other incentives to come to Versailles. However, Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) chairman John Soper said a February lunch with Bill and Felicia Quigg showed they care about more than the bottom line. "The whole conversation was not, 'What we're going to do for them.' That was never asked. Instead, he asked me, 'How can my employees get involved in the community? That's very important to us. How can we be of service?' That was the most refreshing conversation I've had in years," Soper said at the Feb. 26 EDA meeting. Richmond Baking Company, the parent of More Than A Bakery, began 113 years ago, and on Monday Bill Quigg spoke proudly of his family and the company's "family members." Several of them, including the Crawfords, moved here months ago. At the April 1 public forum and again Monday, Quigg identified and praised several employees - whoops, I mean, non-family family members. The groundbreaking began with an invocation by Rob Quigg, and Bill Quigg has spoken publicly of his Christian faith. All has not always been well at the Richmond Baking Company, which isn't unusual considering the century-plus it's been in business. In January, non-family family members went on strike at the Richmond, Ind., plant. However, as strikes go, this one seems have been not only fairly short-lived, lasting less than two weeks, and it featured little of the over-heated rhetoric common to such disagreements. Time will tell whether More Than A Bakery lives up to its executives' words about faith and family, but they're off to a great start. Also, I tried a few of their flavored crackers after the April 1 public meeting. Gov. Bevin is right - they're worth the risk of getting a few crumbs in your beard.