“I didn’t want that temptation, didn’t want people coming in with different motivations,” says Kreutz. “I just didn’t want that voice in the room. I wanted us to be able to control our destiny and sink or swim because we do what we do.” - Matt Kreutz
Owner of Firebrand Artisan Breads, Matt Kreutz, has been working in bakeries since he was 14. He started the company in 2008 in a West Oakland warehouse with only 4 employees.
By 2017 the company had grown from 12 to 55 employees and has a cafe with over a thousand retail partners across the Bay Area.
They're now in the midst of building a new bakery in Alameda with 40 new employees expected to join by April 2021.
Firebrand has always practiced an open hiring policy with a focus on people who are formerly incarcerated or experiencing homelessness. The starting wage is $16.50 an hour along with health, vision, and dental benefits. It's also open 24/7.
With an employee workforce that is 80% people of color, it's important that the companies values are at the forefront. Kreutz was leary of investors coming in and reducing wages and upwards mobility for his employees, so he found another route.
Instead of working with shareholders and corporate executives, Kreutz decided to work with outside advisors and lawyers to incorporate a perpetual trust. This allows the governing body to be made up of Kreutz, Firebrand employees, and community members.
Kreutz then sold $2.5 million in shares to private investors to finance the new bakery in Alameda.
The new Facility includes a worker resource center that includes career development services and classes for Firebrand workers.
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