Harvey Heuvel, Founder and CEO of Smart Baking Company fell in love with Central Florida after a family vacation to Walt Disney World. As restauranteurs, Heuvel and his family noticed that a lot of diners had dietary issues related to gluten and carbohydrates. They identified a unique opportunity to develop an innovative product for an underserved market.
“As we created gluten-free and low carb breads, we noticed demand outpaced our supply, so we decided to create a commercial bakery, focused on good health,” said Heuvel.
From Startup to Second Stage
In January 2016, Smart Baking Company launched sales of Smartcakes and Smartbuns out of Sanford, Florida.
“We started distribution in local health food stores, and as our demand grew, we expanded to the internet,” Heuvel explained.
“Whether it’s dietary issues, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or food allergies, we address all those things, but we also deliver a product that tastes great without the use of sugar and starches. We’re not selling our products as ‘health food’ products,” Heuvel said. “While our products could easily be categorized as health food products and are sold in health food stores, they taste too good to be limited to that market. Our products can make everybody’s life a little bit sweeter and a little bit better.”
Like most startups, Smart Baking Company faced its fair share of challenges. Some were typical of startups, but some of these were unique. In some cases, the equipment for traditional commercial bakeries wouldn’t work for Smart Baking Company. So, they worked with manufacturers to build custom equipment.
Heuvel continued, “We started this business with family and a few key investors. Our goal was to create something special for people looking to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Smart Baking Company employs a two-part marketing strategy. According to Heuvel, the first part is focused on marketing to those “in the know”.
He said, “The second part is geared towards marketing to a broader category, who would benefit from products once they try them. Our products give us the ability to compete on taste and nutrition.”
Today, Smart Baking Company’s workforce consists of 85 full time employees. Heuvel describes the culture as being very family-oriented, supportive and focused on quality.
“We have 27 families working here,” he said. “That includes mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. We are making food we want our families to eat. Our employees are proud to produce baked goods for their family members to eat.”
The management team works one day per month on the line to keep a tight connection with the entire team.
Smart Baking Company is involved in philanthropic activities. Any products they don’t sell get donated to homeless shelters and food banks. They also sponsor a 5K run to benefit the local community. The company is focused on giving back to employees and family members by promoting and encouraging healthy diets and lifestyles and offers great health benefits.
According to Heuvel, the advantages of operating in Florida go well beyond state lines. “First of all, Florida is a great state for business,” he said. “It’s a multi-cultural population, which gives the state an international feel and perspective. Florida also has a large number of health food stores and is a state that is particularly health conscious.”
Smart Baking Company’s exponential growth has included the use of automation to scale. This has allowed Smart Baking Company to retrain its current workforce to use and maintain the new technology. The company plans to continue to do so.
What it Means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
“This means so much to us. GrowFL’s support is such an honor at a time at which we are undergoing a rapid expansion,” Heuvel said.
He was quick to give credit to his management team and the health-conscious customers of Florida, and beyond, for choosing healthy lifestyles and supporting the brand. “In terms of why we were selected, I think it comes down to the great product we invented,” Heuvel said. “It’s never been done before. Our products fill a gap and we were able to quickly connect with the people who need them.”
He continued, “I also believe much of the recognition from GrowFL is due to how we’re changing society’s perceptions around eating. We encourage a health-conscious society by watching what we eat, reading labels and using healthy ingredients.”
Looking forward, Heuvel is focused on making sure the company’s growth is equally met by sustainable improvements in their production process. The company is expanding beyond its two facilities in Seminole County to a third in Volusia County. The new manufacturing facility, which is currently in the design process, will help Smart Baking Company keep up with demand.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“Don’t give up,” Heuvel said. “If you have that dream and start thinking and working in that direction. Nothing will stop you. People are looking for better solutions. Make your idea one of them.”