Thursday, May 04, 2006


Messenger photos by John Halley
Slicing and wrapping bread at Crumb’s Bakery in Athens are, from left, Jeroch Carlson, Jen Strecker and Lisa Trocchia- Balkits. The bakery is marking its 20th year as a worker- owned business. Posted by Picasa

The flowers in the breeze are swaying, swaying,
The whole world is out a-Maying.

---Genevieve Mary Irons

Somehow---I [Jakuso Kwong] didn't drop it---the teacup, a temple treasure, dropped itself. You know how those things go? You're positve you didn't drop it, but somehow the teacup left the table. And I missed it and it fell on the floor and broke! And I felt SO bad. And then Katagiri Roshi went, "Oh ooooooh." And the Suzuki Roshi went "ooooooh, ooooooh, ooooh, ooh, oh." Then my mind started working. I could glue it back together! But Suzuki Roshi came over and we picked up the pieces. And he took the pieces and he stuffed them into the garbage so deep that even my mind couldn't get to them.

---"Dropped" Zen

All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.

---James Thurber

The other day it was pleasant to see our son's picture on the front page of the local newspaper...and like any proud papa I want to preserve it and show it around. It's also a good chance to describe the particular organization of the bakery, where he has worked for a few years now and evolved into a position of some shared managerial responsibility. He's very happy with what he's doing. The Athens community has an ongoing interest in these kinds of business opportunities and that spirit is a main reason so many folks move here. In case you missed it or live a distance away, here's Jeroch and a copy of the article~~~

The Athens Messenger
A community climate
Crumb’s celebrates 20 years as worker-owned
Matt Gallagher
Messenger staff writer
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Getting up to bake before the sun rises is a labor love, and workers at Crumb’s Bakery in Athens have been doing it for many years. This year, the bakery is marking its 20th year as a worker-owned business.

The bakery had its struggles and growths, its early morning frustrations and baker meditations. But being worker-owned instills a sense of community and ownership among the workers, and a sense of fulfillment that eases the tension of the early morning alarm clock.

“Being worker-owned creates a sense of cooperation that leaves room for a whole range of personality types,” said Jeremy Bowman, who has been a Crumb’s worker-owner for more than 10 years.

“Things can get grueling and the work can be arduous, but it’s labor that we love. If the bosses are in the trenches working just as hard as anyone else, there’s this sense of ownership that develops, a pride in what we do.”

The bakery is run by a board of directors made up of employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Everything is done by consensus, and everything gets done through cooperation and collaboration.

The bakery was formerly owned by Steve Koch on a much smaller scale. When he learned he was going to be a father, Koch approached the Worker Owned Network to see what it would take to make the bakery a worker-owned business, according to Charlie Moseley, one of the founders of Crumb’s.

The Worker Owned Network — which is now the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks — negotiated the purchase of the bakery and helped train workers to manage the business and take over its operations.

The Worker Owner Network helped Casa Nueva become a worker-owned business in 1985, and also helped start several other worker-owned businesses that failed to stand the tides of time. Casa Nueva and Crumb’s are the only local worker-owned businesses to survive.

Crumb’s quickly grew, and its five worker-owners expanded to 16, tripling its production that was then sold in health food stores throughout Ohio and surrounding states.

“We made the decision we wanted to be a respected bakery and increase our business,” Moseley said. “You don’t get a lot of administrative talent with people who are underemployed, and we needed a lot of guidance. We were trained for six weeks and then had to do it all ourselves, everything from marketing to production to sales. And we did everything on a consensus basis.”

Like all new adventures, there was a certain amount of risk involved. Not only did the worker-owners have a profit-sharing agreement, they also agreed to share any losses.
Copyright © 2006 The Athens Messenger, Brown Publishing Company

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