Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jackson DID finally make it...

As the story continues...  If you watched the little video piece that Family Times ran about us in 1995 (here's the link if you want a giggle: ) It comments on the fact that an hour before that interview took place, we had just heard our second adoption had fallen through.

Don't worry...  In February 1996 Jackson Kunz joined our family at the tender age of 10 days.  We were thrilled.

I do have a confession to make, and there will be future blogs about this topic, but the 'rest of the story' on that day - back in the fall of 1995, goes something like this...  When the producers arrived at the house, and we were crying - they were so very quick to offer to reschedule.  The truth is, I am a reforming control freak, and my answer to the t.v. crew was...  "Give us 15 minutes, I've already cleaned the house and I don't want to anticipate this interview again..."  YIKES...

They did a great job of bringing out the best of us in that little video...  but I do want to remind all of you, that life is a journey...  There are times when everything goes like you hope, and there are more times that life takes a detour, and offers you the ride of your life!

There are times I wish so deeply that life had editing crews that can say "cut" and "redo".  Real life just doesn't have that button.

Our life has been one of lots of detours!  Yet I can say truly - that it has been the ride of my life, LITERALLY.  The bakery has been our backdrop, our fishbowl of learning.  Both the original bakery and our current building - are all windows.  I joke about the truth that our life has been a journey with 'open windows' to our community.  In a lot of ways our life has been very open to the public view...

Rand and I are two incredibly flawed, individuals who have so many learning opportunities every day...  Some times, we rise to the occasion and high five each other on the other side of the moment, and other days, we kind of want to bury our heads in the wheat and hope no one happens to notice us hiding there!

To all of you...  Remember - get out of the bleachers - and get on the playing field...  Life was meant to be lived!  With or without editing crews.  And when you are on the field you will fall down, you'll get tackled, you'll make wrong turns, you'll get sacked...  Yet you get stronger, you learn, you grow, you make life time friends.  On the field you smell, feel, and hear a lot of things that folks in the bleachers will never get to experience!

Besides - Truly - aren't the bloopers some of the best parts?  When you look back at those moments, a lot of them will make you laugh...  Even the hard ones usually have amazing lessons that came with them...

Thanks to all, who have been willing to forgive, and laugh at some of our less than stellar moments!  There are many... let's just suffice it to say that we are sorry for the hurts that came because of our sad/hard/difficult learning moments.

Life is a journey...  Let's keep living it... And forgiving each other for our 'less than stellar moments'...

Monday, April 18, 2016


It's a part of this journey that we truly couldn't have foreseen - this love part...  Of course we Love each other, and we were in love with the idea of running a bakery together.  We wanted to treat our employees and customers with Love, respect and joy.

But somehow, when you combine all those elements - crazy things begin to happen.  So many of our employees have moved right into our hearts, and continue to hold a very important place.  All this reminiscing has truly made me want to try to pull together a "family reunion" of sorts.  We shall see.

One of the by-products of this amazing energy was the truth that as we claimed all these employees as family - we started hiring siblings and friends of our current employees.  That's one of those things that 'business people' told us we should never do; yet for our setting, it was simply the best choice.

There were the Three Williams brothers, there was Becky and Jenny Nudd, there were all of our sets of twins, there was Megan and Corinne, and Katie and Matt, Terra and Jake, Dani and Brian, Natalie and Ryan, and oh so many more...  Not to mention our own three kids... Like I said before, we simply claim all our employees as part of the bigger family...and we thank their parents for sharing them with us!

On top of all the family love going around, the bakery setting allowed and encouraged our employees to be their best, happy, authentic self.  As this happened - we had several employees recognize their best friends and partners in the process.  I believe we've had Six weddings as well as one employee marrying a customers son (I'm hoping I didn't forget anyone :)

One of these stories involves our sweet Porter, Quinn, and Alex...  Porter was a happy "snowboarder dude" when he walked into our bakery.  He turned in an application - and we hired him.  He was a pleasure to work with, easy going, willing to work hard, and basically just a happy guy.  When we needed a new employee he told his sister Quinn to apply.

If I remember the story correctly - Somehow Rand stopped by Porter's house and ended up interviewing and hiring Quinn without me ever even meeting her...  She too was a great addition to the bakery crew!

Somewhere during this time Alex's Mom who helped us do sugar cookies - told her son Alex to come apply.  He too was a great addition to the crew (in fact he is managing the bakery currently - and is the reason our bread continues to win the Best Bread in the Country award!)

Somewhere during all this - Alex and Quinn - fell in love, married, and had four beautiful children.  What an amazing thing to be a part of.  There was Elizabeth and Kavin, Hope and Stuart...  J.D. and Cami and several others...  What an awe inspiring thing to simply be a part of all these unions in a strange kind of way.

Love is the answer...  I'm not always sure what the questions are, and I'm not always sure I understand how it applies - yet after 21 years I am confident in saying, Love IS the answer...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mission Statements

When I ask a new employee what a mission statement is, the answer usually has something to do with a vision or a goal.  Which is very true.  Yet to me, it is a way of living that helps me become the very best version of myself.

In the beginning, Rand and I really didn't know how to run a business (truth be told - we are still learning new things every single day!)  We knew we had to work hard.  We knew how to bake bread.  We knew how to run registers, and serve customers.  But leading a group of people to a higher place...  Well, we hadn't really given it any thought.

Funny thing was, neither had the franchise.  So maybe it was a universal searching time, but whatever it was - around 1997 we started searching for a vision of where we were going - rather than just making the best of where we were at currently...

What we came up with has changed the person I am.  So much of what our mission statement holds up as touchstones, are the things that come very naturally for Rand - and yet for me, they were a real struggle.

As Rand would describe it; he is the one that gets us off the cliff, and I'm the one who figures out how to get the parachute open before we hit bottom (hopefully!)  Our mission statement has helped me breakdown the parts and pieces of Rand's personality - which has enabled me to soften my edges, learn to laugh more, figure out how to break the process down in order to teach others, and it has made life a lot more enjoyable.

I was doing a "philosophy overview and training" for one of our new employees, and I made her the same promise I make all employees.  If you truly give your heart to living this mission statement, it will change your life.  It will increase your personality, and you will be a better person because of your efforts.  That sounds like a pretty big promise...  But it is a truth.

Celebrate Everyone - Any thoughts on what that might mean in your life?  For us it means the end of categorizing, and objectifying others.  As it is so beautifully put in the movie "Avatar"  it's a process of 'SEEING YOU'.  It's the process of seeing and celebrating the humanness of each of us!  It is not the cultural norm, yet as your view begins to open to this way of looking at others - the world literally changes color!

Be Loose and Have Fun - This is a way of dealing with stressors.  It's a way of looking at challenges. It's an attitude of dealing with hard things.  And truly - it's what makes life (including work) a LOT more fun!

Make Phenomenal Products!  If you aren't aiming for an A+  you simply aren't going to get there.  It needs to be a conscious goal every single day.  Phenomenal is AWESOME!  It also gives us a bar so we can honestly look at where we are, analyze what is, make adjustments, and continue to learn and improve.  It opens our mind to coaching, to looking for ways to improve.  Phenomenal isn't a destination, it is a living breathing thing that we are constantly working towards.

Run FAST to help others - Energy begets energy.  The more energy you bring - the more is created.  Shuffling through life will never get you anywhere very fun or very fast.  So pick up your feet and RUN.

Create a Strong and Exciting Bakery.  Strength comes from knowing and performing your job, and then understanding how that fits with others.  It then involves having the courage, and foresight to reach out and help those around you in your extra minutes during the day.  Strength is built together with a sense of community.

Give Generously to OTHERS...  This is something that is so easy for Rand.  I used to look at life from a point of limited quantities.  Rand simply never saw life from that point of view.  I have learned from him, that life is about abundance and sharing that plenty with others is a beautiful way to have abundance in your own life.  It may not make sense on paper...  but it is a natural law of the universe.  Share your heart, your time, your resources, and of course - your bread.

So grateful for these guiding principles in my own life - and so humbled to have watched these truths change so many lives as they have opened their hearts to them...  Life is awesome, HARD, and worth the effort!

The Soundtrack from my LIFE...

Have you noticed how music has an ability to transport us to a certain time and place?  You can be walking through a store, thinking about whatever the day holds, and all the sudden a certain level of your conscious mind acknowledges the song playing over the radio.  Instantly you are transported mentally to a completely different place.

Some songs are so powerful that you can actually smell the air from that time.  Or feel the wind on your skin.  When John Couger Melancamp sings "Jack & Dianne" I can literally smell Logan Canyon in 1987.  Driving up there with Rand while we were dating, sticking my head out the window and yelling for the whole world to hear, "I LOVE Rand Kunz"...  Makes me giggle to think about it.

When "Spider Fingers" by Bruce Horsby and the Range plays, I can hear the oven buzzing, I can smell the bread, it's an actual visceral sensation.  This was one of those CD's that we often played at the beginning of the kneading session in the mornings.

"Walking on Sunshine" plays by Katrina and the Waves and I feel it!  I physically weigh 20 pounds less and my clothes are baggy and I am basically skipping.

It's a power that I can't explain, it is just to be accepted.

Music is such a big part of Great Harvest.  In the beginning when we bought the store, the franchise agreement was pretty simply.  Summed up, you needed to make Honey Whole Wheat, offer FREE slices of bread, and play your music loud (and of course pay your royalty).  As all things, it's a bit more complicated now, but not much!  Great Harvest is still about creating your own corner of the world.

The music we play is universal to sunshine, happy, toe tapping, sing out loud kind of activities.  You will often here the employees singing - PLEASE feel free to join in!  For life is so much more fun when you step out of the bleachers and engage in the process.

I love the soundtrack of my life...  It simply makes me grin!

I challenge you to take the time to pull out that CD that takes you to a very happy place.  Share it with someone, tell them the story - and then open up and SING with it!  You'll be amazed at the smile that blossoms!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#MostAwesomeEmployeesEver !

How do I even begin the discussion of the lessons I have learned from the amazing people who have come and worked at this crazy little bakery?

I started pulling out old photo envelopes that are overflowing with pictures of amazing people.  Each person has a story.  Each person has moved into a section of my heart.  Each person has taught me lessons.  Each person has left and continued to write their own stories.

I am humbled beyond words.  I think of the first few years of interviews.  Rand and I would sit down with a person and we would describe what this little bakery was all about.  Usually we would begin with the truth that "This may look like a bakery, and it may smell like a bakery, but it is really SO much more."  We would describe the truth that this little bakery - is our own personal experiment to see if we can create our own little peaceful, joyful, fun world that is FULL of love.  We would explain that we were looking to hire people who were willing to join in our efforts to make a difference in our little corner of the world.

And each employee that we have hired through the past twenty one years has brought a piece of themselves.  They have given and served with their hearts, and left both the bakery and Rand and I better for their existence!  Some lessons are hard to learn, some are funny, some are painful, and some are so exciting that you can hardly describe them.

I wish I had the kind of memory that I could simply pull up the names and faces of each of these amazing people, but for me it's more like trying to remember every hike I've been on.  I can't always remember where or when it was - but I remember feelings, and impressions.  I remember the hard parts, and I remember the amazing vistas.  Some hikes I remember every single detail, and I can smell the air and feel the sun.  Still others I simply can remember the sense of awe I had.

Our employees have left the same types of footprints on my heart and mind.  Some came for a short while, some are long timers, some I remember every detail, some are hard and challenging, some moved quietly and left beautiful impressions, while others continue to be a living part of my current life.

Folks ask me if we have ever had to let folks go from the bakery...  and my answer usually goes something like this, "Great Harvest in Taylorsville is a unique place, it isn't a perfect fit for everyone.  This does not mean that all individuals don't have amazing traits and parts and pieces, rather, this job just isn't for everyone.  If it isn't a great fit, than hopefully (and usually) we part ways with a hug and gratitude for the lessons they have come and shared with us, and we continue to cheer them on in their new pursuits!"

Then again - it doesn't always go that smoothly - but the lessons learned are still so very valuable.  People are amazing.  So very different.  Yet all folks seem to have a basic desire to love and be loved.  A desire to learn and grow and share.  A desire to make a difference in this world.

Gratitude runs so very deep for all the people who have helped create this bakery.  My gratitude is also very deep for those who are working for us now.  Each of them faithfully show up, put their generous, happy face on, set their own struggles aside for the time they are here - and then they reach out...  out of their comfort zones, across the walls we usually hide behind, and they generously give to us, to each other, to each of you, and to this thing that is bigger than all of us, that we lovingly call "The Bakery"...

So Thankful...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

If We Bake It... They Will Come...

Did you see the movie "Field of Dreams"?  It was such a great movie!

Rand and I both loved it, bought it, and have watched it many times.  When we decided to paint the mural of the house through the wheat fields - we did so to remind us - that even if others couldn't see what we could see...  We KNEW this little bakery could grow and become a part of this community in a very real way.

We of course couldn't see at the time what 21 years later would look like, but we felt it in our bones, that we would still be here, and that this bakery would be a viable, living part of this amazing community.  As we look back at our journey, we believe that so much of why were able to move with such faith was the knowledge that this is an awesome community.

In the beginning, since we were the new kids in the neighborhood, we literally would load up the extra bread in the evening and we would go to different neighborhoods.  Rand would knock on the doors offering a free loaf of bread and introduce himself.

We also collected all the churches names and addresses in our neighborhoods and sent out a letter.  In the letter we explained that we would love to help and support them in any way we could.  If they had folks in their congregations that needed help with food - call us.  If they were having an event and needed bread - call us.

I'm not sure a lot of the groups believed us at first, but we continued to ask - and slowly the calls started to come in, allowing us the opportunity to serve in another way.  The schools allowed us to come in and slice bread for free - and then they sold it as a fundraiser to raise money for their play - or the track team, etc.

I started doing field trips for preschool groups, and then scouting groups, and young women and young men groups.  Then I started speaking to women's groups...  Sharing the stories, the lessons, learned, and the simple truths that baking bread teaches.

If I were to sum up that first year of Rand & Jo's Big Adventure it would be to state that, We baked it, we loved this community, and They came.

Belief is such a big part of living a courageous life... But Belief is just the beginning...  Action is required if you want to see big things happen...  If we Bake it...  They will come...

Thanks for continuing to come!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rand & Jo's Big Adventure...

We couldn't have chosen a more appropriate name for our business.  Little did we know 21 years ago what a crazy adventure this would turn out to be.  Yet life is like that.  We have a plan, we start making choices, and 21 years later, we are still in the community, in a new building, but still making the countries best bread. (Yep, we just won the award again!)

Rand & Jo's Big Adventure came about as we were sitting with the franchise folks and they explained we needed a separate business name to set up our franchise.  Of course, being the practical person I am, I'm thinking "Kneaders and Bakers" or "Bakers of Taylorsville" - Rand laughed and said, "Rand & Jo's Big Adventure" - and the decision was made.

Truly though, to be honest - our Big Adventure began in February of 1988 when we committed to each other to love, laugh, and live passionately for the rest of our lives.  One of the promises Rand made to me at that time was that my life would never be boring!  He has fulfilled that promise without stumbling.  Boring would never be a word I would use to describe any part of our life together.

When we bought the bakery on May 1, 1995, we really didn't have much of a plan.  We just thought it would be a great idea to run a bakery.  Rand is an English Major and I was a licensed Recreational Therapist.  Not a business class between us.  We purchased the Taylorsville Great Harvest from Paul Maurer.  He was the original owner of the Holladay Great Harvest, and he had opened the Taylorsville store in 1992.  

Both Rand and I were working for Paul at his Holladay store when Paul decided to sell his existing stores.  We considered ourselves blessed, and we moved forward with faith.  Rand had been baking for several years before we bought our store, so the actual process of baking bread didn't overwhelm us so much.  It was the financial end that seemed a bit daunting. 

Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to increase sales quickly - for truth be told - we had a debt payment to make, and it was truly a leap of faith to think that we would be able to do it on what the bakery was currently producing in sales. 

When we started this adventure Rand was 34 and I was 28, we were young, willing to risk all we had (especially since we didn't have too much :o), and eager to try our hand at creating our own little corner of the world.  At the time, Tyler was ten, Alesha was two and Jackson wasn't even born yet.  We jumped in and simply started figuring things out through trial and error.  

Lesson 1:  Dare Greatly!  Life is lived a day at a time, and truly, we get to choose if we LIVE it or if we OBSERVE it...  Rand and I decided to jump in with both feet and LIVE it...  We haven't made that choice perfectly through the years, and we each have had seasons of simply hanging on and trying to breathe through the next moment, or day, or week.  However, the lessons remains - We learn the most when we Dare Greatly!  

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for, as Paul Harvey used to say....  "The Rest of the Story"...