All About Alumni / Summer 2011
Lord of the Loaves

Steve Gibson’s final MBA project has left him rolling in dough


Photo Courtesy of Steve GibsonSteve Gibson (MBA 1995) still wonders why he only got an A- on his business plan to start an artisanal-bread bakery. Soon after graduating from U of T’s Rotman School of Management, Gibson took his 20-page school project to the bank and received financing to launch Fred’s Bread. Gibson and his spouse, pastry chef Andrea Damon Gibson, have since grown Fred’s Bread into a multimillion-dollar business. “I should have gotten an A+,” he quips.

The Toronto enterprise employs 35 workers, including a team of bakers who twist, shape and bake 30,000 loaves a week. Every morning, trucks deliver freshly baked bread to upscale restaurants, including Hart House’s Gallery Grill, and high-end grocery stores, such as Pusateri’s.

Several years ago, Fred’s Bread started flash-freezing bread so aficionados elsewhere in Ontario and in the northeastern U.S. can enjoy the loaves.

In the mid-1990s, when Damon Gibson lamented the lack of quality bread in Toronto, Gibson noted an opportunity and developed a business plan. In their tiny apartment kitchen, Damon Gibson wrapped Concord grapes in cheesecloth and, by adding flour and water, created a sourdough starter.

The plan’s marketing component emphasized all-natural, organic ingredients and the baking methods of yesteryear. “We take up to 24 hours to make a sourdough loaf, and almost no bakery will do that,” says Gibson.

Last summer, he hired a farmer to grow organic Red Fife wheat. “It’s called vertical integration,” says Gibson, tossing out a term he learned at Rotman. “It allows you to reduce costs and have more control over the process.” His wife created loaves that are rustic red and have a nutty flavour. And Gibson marketed the new line with a catchy new name: Red Fred Bread.


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