In 2012, Matt Kreutz and Colleen Orlando of Firebrand Artisan Breads were struggling because their business was so successful.
Their hand-crafted, wood-fired breads were a hit at Whole Foods and several of the Bay Area’s top restaurants. They needed to expand their business in order to keep up with demand, and they needed advice. That’s when they reached out to ICA.
“I remember the first day I met Nina Robinson, she said ‘We’re here to help,’” Colleen recalls. “It was a phrase we hadn’t really heard before, and certainly not in the way that Nina and the folks at ICA mean it. What I heard was, ‘We believe in you and want you to succeed.’”
Matt and Colleen attended ICA’s Growth Strategies course in 2014 to strengthen their vision and develop their leadership skills. Their commitment to sustainably growing their business and creating good jobs made them prime candidates for a more hands-on advising and consulting approach.
With the support of ICA’s Capital Preparation team and world-class advisors, Firebrand set out to secure the growth capital needed to expand its production and launch a flagship retail bakery in Uptown Oakland. Ultimately, ICA recommended Firebrand to Fund Good Jobs as a candidate for investment. After exhaustive due diligence, Fund Good Jobs was able to provide an investment that promoted the stability and continued growth of the company. Moreover, this capital was leveraged to secure another two dollars for every dollar contributed by Fund Good Jobs, helping Firebrand to fully meet its $1.8M capital need. Now, we are ensuring that this capital promotes mission of good job creation. Like all Fund Good Jobs portfolio companies, Firebrand can secure a lower interest rate by meeting certain job quality targets, such as implementing health benefits and professional development opportunities.
Now that Firebrand has the resources to grow, Matt and Colleen have a renewed focus on preparing for new employees. ICA’s consultants and advisors are helping Firebrand with the operational planning, job-creation forecasting, and human resources support needed to build and retain a diverse and inclusive team.
“We are doubling our staff with our retail expansion,” Colleen says. “We have the great opportunity to provide more jobs for our community and also make those jobs available to people that are in many different stages and situations in their lives.”
Matt agrees that good jobs are a critical ingredient to the company’s continued success. “People don’t want to be a part of an organization where they are just told what to do. We’re trying to give everyone a role at Firebrand that is bigger than a job, and make our staff feel like they are a part of something. We want our employees to feel good about what they do, who they are, what they can accomplish at work and outside of work. We want that energy and empowerment to flow out into the community. Firebrand needs to be something bigger than a bakery.”
Firebrand’s commitment to working with ICA and Fund Good Jobs has helped to refine our methods and identify what truly gets results. That’s why we see Matt and Colleen not as clients, but as our partners in creating good jobs.
“We aren’t the same people who met ICA on a picnic bench two years ago,” Matt says. “How do you turn around and just say ‘Thanks’? We’re often at a loss - the relationship is a lot to take in and put into words.” “We don’t take anything for granted. We’re always appreciative.”