SBA Administrator Linda McMahon Visits Fireking Baking Company in Braintree on 2/7 as part of her SBA Ignite Tour across America
American manufacturing is on the rise in Braintree, Massachusetts. According to the National Association of Manufacturers – total output from Massachusetts manufacturing showed a steady increase from 2009, reaching $48.75 billion in 2016. Commercial real estate loans from the SBA are fueling this trend by providing small business owners like Greg Acerra with tools to grow locally and scale operations nationally.
Fireking Baking Company has been an innovator in the baking industry and a leading manufacturer of European-style artisan breads since 1995. Baking high-quality, all-natural products for restaurants and retail grocery stores – Fireking has been rapidly expanding through the development of a national distribution network and by utilizing state-of-the-art equipment that fulfills large orders with short turnaround time.
Before starting Fireking Baking Company, Founder Greg Acerra worked his way up in the food service industry, opening several restaurants including Stars and Tosca – and that’s when he started baking his own bread.
Rapid Expansion and Job Creation with the SBA 504
As a restaurant owner, Acerra wanted to serve fresh artisan bread that was baked in-house. So when he saw a shuddered gas station directly across the street – he saw an opportunity to start his own bakery, renovated it and opened Fireking Baking & Bistro. Within a year, Greg landed his first major wholesale account for his new artisan breads – so he bought a delivery truck and moved the operation to an 11,000-sq.ft. facility in Weymouth. In 2012, Fireking outgrew that facility and moved to the current 40,000-sq.ft. factory in Braintree with support from the SBA 504 program. Today, Acerra’s factory currently houses five bread lines and four packaging lines to produce about 191,000 cases of product every year.
“Through the SBA’s 504 program and in collaboration with James Graziano of Weymouth Bank (now Equitable) and Barbara Arena of Granite State Development, Fireking Baking Company has been able to complete an expansion phase unprecedented in the bakery’s twenty-year history,” said Acerra. “In three years, Fireking has doubled sales, added 44 employees and now operates out of a new, 40,000 square foot state of the art facility in Braintree, MA.”
In 2016, the SBA recognized Fireking Baking as Manufacturer of the Year for Massachusetts as part of National Small Business Week – highlighting the factory’s rapid expansion and job creation increases. Fireking’s three-year job growth figures highlighted a strong increase in workforce that was reflective of the increase in their production. In 2012, Fireking had 71 employees and grew to 82 in 2013; then to 93 in 2014; and then reached 114 in 2015 as a result of the new Braintree facility expansion. As of September 2018, the firm has grown to approximately 150 employees.
Achieving Higher Efficiencies and Effectiveness
As Greg continues seeing a trend of double-digit growth in his business each year, he has paid attention to his most important assets – his people. Acerra is certain that he would not be in such a healthy position with his operation without his amazing factory workers.
As Fireking Baking Company continues to innovate and take on new challenges from its clients, Greg has been positioning the company and his workforce for greater efficiencies in the factory. Acerra loves growing his business and seeing his people share in the success of the company, so he continues reinvesting in new state-of-the-art equipment with the cash flow flexibility achieved through SBA 504 financing. As a result, Fireking Baking Company is realizing a return-on-investment both in the efficiencies of production and effectiveness in his employees by lessening the burden in the factory.
SBA Administrator Linda McMahon Ignite Tour
In February of 2018, Acerra welcomed SBA Administrator Linda McMahon to Fireking for a visit as part of the #SBAIgnite Tour. As part of the nationwide outreach effort, Administrator McMahon visited small business owners in every state throughout the country to spread awareness about the agency’s programs and services and to hear from small business owners such as Acerra, who are growing their business with support from the SBA. Acerra gave Administrator McMahon a tour of the factory and shared his story of how SBA helped Fireking achieve more efficiency and effectiveness to better serve his customers across the country.