Great Harvest Bread Company
The happiest day of Pablo Teodoro’s life was the day he was fired. “I was overwhelmed with happiness, because I was sure it was the beginning of something really exciting,” he says. “I had this strange certainty that I was going to start a business and that it was going to be amazing.” Little did he know that this day would lead him to giving life-saving help to his community in the midst of COVID-19.
Already seasoned in management and inspired by his own ideas, Pablo spent roughly two years focusing on running a small farm, learning about monoculture farming and sustainable agriculture, and exploring the ins-and-outs of selling his products to local farmers markets. Then fate led Pablo to discover the Great Harvest Bread Company. Founded in Montana by a free-thinking, free-living couple, according to Pablo, the company’s values mirrored his own, and the freedom and flexibility it offered its franchisees is what drew him.
“We get to become a community bakery. We get to sell food that people in Warrenton want to eat,” Pablo says. “We have a stone mill in the basement, and we mill our own flour. Just like eating a fresh apple or drinking a fresh ground cup of coffee, everything here tastes rich, full, and exciting in a way that other bakeries cannot reproduce.”
Pablo and his new franchise, Great Harvest, have developed a relationship with Lord Fairfax SBDC Director Christine Kriz, powered by mutual motivation and excitement. “Christine understands our struggles. She made a big difference by making practical and inspirational differences in our local business community,” he adds. She connected Pablo with Cort Maddox, a business advisor at the Lord Fairfax SBDC, and they meet monthly for business coaching. “I will give Cort an update,” Pablo explains. “He will point out things, provide statistics, and tell me if he thinks I am on the wrong track.”
When the pandemic hit, Great Harvest found itself in a very difficult spot. On the verge of closure, Pablo made a bold move: he continued to bake bread. Then a viral Facebook post opened the gates to a demand for over 5,300 loaves of bread for food banks and others in need. Donations to offset the cost of ingredients began to roll in, and things began to turn around for the small corner bakery. “We were baking hundreds of loaves of bread a day. Customers were coming in droves. People were also requesting the ingredients — which gave us the money to afford to bake bread for the food banks.”
Finding a warm heart in the midst of the strange times has grown Pablo’s business and especially his spirit. “Although I know that COVID is overall a tragedy in terms of illness and death, it has also provided unexpected miracles and unexpected blessing,” Pablo says. “We are on a better footing than we’ve ever been.”