Celebrating 150 Years – Orlando Baking Company – C to C: The Commitment to Community Podcast

December 1, 2022

On our newest episode of C to C, we’re talking to Orlando Baking Company, a Northeast Ohio staple since 1872. You’ve probably seen their fresh breads on store shelves, served them on your own dinner table and brought them to cookouts.

This episode showcases the rich history of Orlando Baking Company, celebrating its 150-year anniversary, and its service to the community. Thank you to Danny Holan, Chief Administrative Officer, Orlando Baking Company, and my special co-host for the episode, Al Rubosky, Group Benefits Advisor, Oswald Companies.




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ROSSI: Hi, this is Gina Rossi and we are back with C to C the commitment to community podcast from Oswald Companies. Today, we are so excited to welcome Danny Holan of Orlando Baking and our own Al Rubosky of Oswald Companies. How are you both doing today?

HOLAN: Doing well, doing well, Gina.

RUBOSKY: Doing awesome. Thanks Gina.

ROSSI: Great. Great. Would you both mind introducing yourselves for our audience here?

HOLAN: Sure. My name is Danny Holan and I am the chief administrative officer at Orlando Baking Company. And don’t ask me what that title means because I really don’t know.

RUBOSKY: Awesome, thanks Danny. I’m Al Rubosky. I’m a benefits advisor here at Oswald. I’ve been here for most 11 years. Or actually, it’s been 11 years now at this point. I help employers manage their healthcare programs and benefits programs trying to find the best value for employees and the best cost control mechanisms for the employers. So I have a lot of fun working with Danny and his team, and we’re excited to be here today.

ROSSI: Great. Thank you. Thank you for introducing yourselves and Danny can you tell us a little bit about Orlando Baking and the long history here in Cleveland? Does Cleveland stand out in any way from other cities where you do business?

HOLAN: Sure. I mean, Cleveland is our home. Our business is actually celebrating its 150th year. We started in Italy in Castel di Sangro Italy in 1872, early 1900s.

HOLAN: That would be our great great grandfather’s two sons migrated to the United States for opportunity.

And in early 1904 (we) ended up down in the Central Market area, which is really where Progressive Park and the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is now. It’s the old gateway area. There was kind of a market area in that Central Market area there back in the early 1900s. So, we really started in Cleveland in 1904. So when we talk about Cleveland, it’s very diverse and very rich in culture and history.

The museums and historical things within the city, we’ve always been in the fabric in the community. So it’s very near and dear to us. We’re very excited to see a lot of the changes the city has gone through in the last 20 years. We’re kind of a secret, I think in a lot of ways. We’ve got this big city feel, but we can go from one another county to the other in 20 minutes. So we like that.

Cleveland is always special to us. So it will always be our corporate home regardless of whatever we decide or whatever future endeavor we do.

ROSSI: Definitely. Definitely. Congratulations on 150 years in business. You know that is quite a milestone.

What would you say the secret for success and longevity, not only here in Northeast Ohio, but nationwide?

HOLAN: I think if you had a couple of my other cousins on this the same question, they’d have pretty much a similar response. I mean we’ve always been a customer-focused organization. I think the majority of listeners will know us from the community in retail and seeing our product on the shelf and hopefully see the black on the street. But we’ve always been customer focused regardless if it’s the local consumer or a national chain.

When you have customers’ interest and you take care of them directly, you build those long-lasting relationships and it kind of helps.

They become loyal and when you (get) to that level of brand loyalty, it speaks volumes and it’s something that’s hard to gain, but once you have it’s even harder to keep it so we really strive to do that. Clevelanders have been phenomenal for us. I mean it’s our home base.

We’ve got a lot of regional business and the national accounts, you could be in a restaurant in Phoenix, AZ and have our bread, not even know it’s our bread. So that brand isn’t as important, but our relationship with the buyer or the purchasing people within the organization is where we really strive to keep that.

ROSSI: Thank you for sharing that. And you know I’m looking at your background now. He has the Orlando truck. You know, it’s a show showing up right now, and I love to see that.

ROSSI: How have you seen your hometown of Cleveland change over 150 years? Al, you could weigh in, too (regarding) Oswald. We just celebrated our 125th anniversary about four years ago. It’s going to be 130 next year.

RUBOSKY: Yeah, absolutely. I think what’s been really cool is just seeing the growth of Cleveland and all the fun stuff that has happened here over the last few years. I’ve personally been in this area for almost 11 years with Oswald. And I’ve seen a lot of growth for us. And, you know, in Cleveland’s aligned with that, you know very well and, you know, you got us beat, Danny, and I mean we’ve only been around almost 130 and you guys are at 150. So you know, it’s cool. I think it’s fun for both organizations to be able to say how long we’ve been like you said, the part of the fabric of Cleveland, I think that’s a great way to put it.

HOLAN: Yeah. And we look good for our age, so it’s good.

ROSSI: Absolutely. And Al, can you tell us a little bit about your experience and relationship with Orlando and Danny over the years

RUBOSKY: Yeah, sure. If I remember it, I might have met Danny your cousin John first when we first got to know each other a little bit. It’s been great. Great people to work with. And we’ve done some stuff over the last few years together that was a pretty cool. I think we’ve done some good work together.

ROSSI: So you (are) celebrating your 150-year anniversary. How is Orlando honoring the community for its 150th anniversary? I saw you guys were hosting the Great American sandwich search.

Also, some celebratory videos that you guys were featured in. Is there anything else fun planned for the celebration?

HOLAN: There’s been a series of different promotional things that we’ve been working on. The sandwich contest, you’re right. I was going to mention that we just concluded it actually on Monday. We also did an internal as well for our employees. So we thought it would be kind of fun. So we’re gonna go through that on Monday. There wasn’t as large of a turnout, but still it was good. So we’re gonna have to have a little fun with that next week. I mean, as far as a community is concerned, I mean, we’ve always been community focused, whether it’s because of our business and dealing with so many customers from the restaurant side, there’s always fundraisers or various nonprofits, church, whatever it may be. So we always try to take part. We always try to get involved. I think that’s important because we are part of the community as well.

ROSSI: Definitely.

HOLAN: I guess on a higher level, my cousin John Anthony, he’s involved with the hunger network of Greater Cleveland. He’s been on the board there for years. That’s kind of a near and dear organization to us, as well as the Cleveland Food Bank. Our cousin Nick Junior is on the board. He’s a past board member, but he’s still involved in that as well. Both of those organizations speak to we’re a food producer at the end of the day, we produce bread, food, you know, not everything we have sells immediately. So anytime we have an abundance of something we try to, you know, give it to where the greatest need is. So those organizations, we always work with a lot of the local churches around the area they have a lot of food drives and just different things.

ROSSI: Right.

HOLAN: You know it, it is. It’s our community. It’s our belief. We’re part of it and you know we enjoy it. I mean, I mentioned the opportunity corridor that you know this is a project that’s been from the Community aspect. It’s been 30 years on the books and no one really knew Orlando Baking Company. I shouldn’t say it like that, but where we were located.

We’ve been in this in this area since ‘79 and we were kind of tucked away between some residential streets and some other side streets, if you will. And with the opportunity corridor coming, we recognize that suddenly we were gonna be prominent on the road and we are, which is great. We went from probably around 200 cars a day in this neighborhood to over 20,000.

So it’s been great. Al’s been here, so he’s seen the facade and the beginning of the front of the building. We did put a two-story employee center in because we obviously we need a locker room and lunch rooms. We also have meeting rooms on the 2nd floor. What’s really cool from the outside, I call it the villa because when you’re driving up, it looks like an Italian villa and it was all by design to kind of showcase the facility.

We’re in the fabric in Northeast Ohio and we love it.

RUBOSKY: One of our core values is commitment to community. And I think a lot of what we what you’ve shared Danny, is a lot of the things we try to do out in the community as well, being such a big part of this area and the big part of Cleveland, Ohio. Some of the nonprofits you mentioned already, we’ve done work with over the last how many years, Gina, and supported them in different ways. So maybe we even handed out some of your bread to folks (and) we didn’t even realize that at that time, so it’s pretty cool. It’s (a) great alignment between two fine organizations.

ROSSI: Yes, yes, absolutely. And you know, curious, are there certain baked goods that have survived the test of time? My personal favorite is the Italian twist. And of course, the ciabatta, that’s always been a staple for me growing up and at my house.

HOLAN: Yeah, certainly those are both great products. You know, I remember as a kid working on making Italian twist. I could never twist as fast as some of the staff here. I mean, you’re taking two pieces of dough and you’re hand-twisting it at a fast rate and you needed I think it’s like 30, some 28 twists you got to do in a minute, to stay consistent. But some of our guys are just, they can do it in their sleep. It’s one of my favorite breads. But the ciabatta to me has always been my number one. That was found by our past President, Uncle Nick. I think it’s gotta be close to 40 years ago he was in Italy and in the Lake Como region and that’s where he found it.

There was a little baker that was making it, a little kind of corner baker if you will and he found it, fell in love with the product and in subsequent trips, he convinced the baker to come to Cleveland to show us how to make it. Obviously the basic is still there, ingredient-wise (the) formula, I mean. We’ve obviously changed it for more mass production, but at its core that product hasn’t really changed from the formulation, so you find the ciabatta now in a lot of other products that we make. It’s not just the ciabatta bread or we do ciabatta rolls.

HOLAN: We do sandwich breads for a lot of chain restaurants that uses that same formula in, and if you’re in any of the grocery stores in the frozen section, you may see ciabatta rolls in a box that’s not our name, so you can figure that out that we do private label as well. I’m not at liberty to say that, but it’s in a lot of products. So I think that’s been a great product for us.

And I think when you talk about our business, we are different than a lot of other bakeries because we have a blend of fresh business and frozen from our distribution channels. And then we have a lot of we do have retail. We also have a lot of food service or institution and private labels.

So when you look at products like with the restaurant, then look at that and we work with them and formulate a formula they like (and) we like. Then that can spin off into a retail product that we’re serving on the shelves. (One) great product is our essential wheat. It’s got a yellow label, and that basically spun off (from) one of our frozen national accounts that we produce all the bread for.


HOLAN: That is only open for breakfast and lunch, and you can, you know, maybe you can. I don’t wanna say who that is, but it’s the first starts the you could always say one or first so you can figure it out from there. But we kind of created it off of that because it’s such a great product and I think that’s a really really good product as well. And I mean we’ve got a lot of other things, our brioche hamburger buns came from some restaurant business that we did.

HOLAN: We I think we make an outstanding brioche. I’d put that against anybody’s in the country to be honest. And then we’ve got some opportunities coming up, you know, from a just international with the family does a lot of traveling and different shows we’ve been at, we’ve seen and aligned ourselves with the organization coming out of Switzerland called Paillasse and it’s a hand-twisted bread. So again, it’s a little niche, but we’re gonna be private labeling for them in and you’ll find it in Heinen’s probably in the next four to five months or so. We’re always looking for different things. Our businesses, when I say we’re a little different than some of the traditional bakers, we mean it because we do a lot of different things. It’s not just one market that we focus on. We kind of do a little of everything, (which) makes it difficult from an operation standpoint.

So we’ve got that challenge that we’re trying to blend. You know what we can do as efficiently as we can, but it’s who we are.

RUBOSKY: Yeah, I was gonna say Danny I told you I love the brioche buns. Grill out a lot. And you know those are my favorite. Last time I saw you, I was trying to find a way to get in and be a judge on that sandwich contest. So it sounds like the first one’s kind of over, the national one. But if your employee contest is still open for judges. If I can make it, I’d love to be there.

HOLAN: I think Monday I’ll double check. I’ll see if I can get you an invite.

RUBOSKY: Beautiful. Beautiful.

ROSSI: So, so what’s next? You mentioned already, Danny, you know with more private labeling and working with other brands. What is the future for Orlando Baking Company?

HOLAN:. Uh, Gina, I don’t have a crystal ball, but let’s say another 150 years!

ROSSI: Yes, yes, I like that.

HOLAN: How about that? If we’re customer focused and we’re doing the right thing, I think we’ve got a great opportunity to make another 150 for sure.

I think from operations and just if you look at the economy and market conditions and labor conditions, anything that we can do to be forward thinking from a marketing standpoint, from what customers are looking for to kind of fill that demand is important. Of course, operational efficiencies and it’s not just within the facility, it’s sales efficiencies, it’s administration efficiencies. That’s really where the Oswald team comes in to help looking forward, to not just provide a service or a health care service, but let’s get a little bit more proactive and let’s really meet our employees, our customers’ demands because there are customers, our employees. At the end of the day, that’s really who we’re servicing, and we got to make sure that they’re comfortable and they’re provided good health care or whatever benefits it may be.

As we look forward – and this is a lofty goal – but I want Orlando Baking Company to be one of the best places to work in Northeast Ohio and I think that’s gonna be a tremendous challenge because we’re a factory at our core. We’ve got a lot of white collar as well but it’s mostly a blue collar facility and to make that a best place to work is going to be a challenge, but I think with the right initiatives, I mean our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that we’re trying to push forward. Right now we have seven languages within the facility and we have handbooks in seven languages. That’s speaks (to) the diversity we have here and I think you’re going to continue to see that.

HOLAN: We’re a cross section of America when you really think about it. So and I think that’s great. We just started an apprenticeship program, which is brand new for us. We’re actually sending five of our maintenance (employees) back to school on a four-year program, so obviously they’re gonna gain knowledge and experience and understand a lot of the technology which is incorporated in the facility, and it gives them an opportunity to grow and earn more. And at the end of the day, that’s what we want. We want happy employees that want to come to work. So I think those are all lofty goals.

I think if you were to drive by the facility right now, you’re gonna see some steel going up in a building across the street. So that’s a cold storage facility that we’re a part of. It’s a 150,000-square-foot facility and it’s positioned that we can add on to it to almost double it, I believe.

Because we realized there is a need there. So is it just bakery or is it other other opportunities? I don’t know. But I think you gotta keep your eyes open and look towards the opportunities and then when you get them you gotta be best. So we’re just trying to be the best.

It’s not easy. It’s not easy. But we like challenges.

ROSSI: Yes, yes.

RUBOSKY: And I’ll say to you that in my experience working with your you and your team, Danny, what you’re saying is not just talk. You’re always asking us for opportunities to make things better for your employees and the ways that we can help. The things that you’re doing in addition to that (are) astounding. You really do believe in making it a family oriented business.

It is a family business, and you want to expand that to the whole organization, not just the true family members that work there and you feel that when you go in there. That’s what I think was the most interesting thing for me is I got to know you guys (and) just how that atmosphere is that culture and you’re always trying to make it better. You know. It’s awesome to see and I’m glad to be part of it.

HOLAN: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

HOLAN: I appreciate that. I will say this, we are working towards a little bit of a paradigm shift from the family business. Not that we will always be a family business and family oriented but one of the things that we’ve been really talking about is just changing the words more of a business family. We’re thinking in terms of, look if we’re gonna do something, we got to do it the best.

We’ve got to be best in class so we’re kind of just looking at it in more realistic terms saying our forefathers got us here and it’s great and we’re proud of it and we’ve got a long, rich heritage, but we really need to focus on what we do best and do it better and some of the other stuff, maybe that’s what where we start to streamline and not focus on those areas. And I think that comes with an evolution as the business grows.

RUBOSKY: It’s always about taking care of people. That’s been everything that you do. And what I’ve seen. That’s what I keep hearing is we gotta take care of our people.

HOLAN: Yeah. No, I agree. At the core, it’s all people-oriented. I mean in human resources and sales, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t have a relationship with people, you’re not going to succeed.


ROSSI: Absolutely. Well thank you, Danny and Al, for your time. Where can we go for more information? Where can we follow you guys?

HOLAN: We do have a website, although it’s under a little construction. So hopefully in the near future, we’re going to see a new version of it out there. But we’re definitely on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

ROSSI: Well, thank you so much for your time and congrats again at 150 years in business, so here’s to 150 years more!

HOLAN: Thank you.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and web formatting.

Introducing the C to C podcast, an oscast by Oswald production

Commitment to Community is a core value of Oswald; it’s the foundation of who we are and the purpose behind all we do. The C to C podcast provides a platform for nonprofit partners to share their stories and discuss the critical issues facing their clients. Our goal: create a halo effect of service and support, inspiring our audiences to align with causes that speak to them and take action in their companies and communities.

Hosted by Gina Rossi, digital communications manager, this podcast series features in-depth interviews and highlights the good works happening throughout our communities.