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All Systems Go: Gonnella Expands Its Aurora Bakery

Gonnella’s newly expanded Aurora, Ill. bakery fires up the engine to build momentum now and launch the business into the future

by Dan Malovany, Baking & Snack

With the expansion of its Aurora, Illinois bakery, Gonnella Baking Company significantly ramped up its overall hearth bread and roll capabilities by remodeling its existing bakery and reconfiguring the production line to handle baguettes, French, Italian and other specialty breads and rolls.

During the past two years, the company expanded its operation to build a high-volume bread and bun line with the latest bells and whistles in programmable controls. At the same time, it remodeled the existing 70-year-old facility and added a significant amount of hearth baking capacity.

Gonnella’s transformation of its Aurora fresh bakery reflects the best of greenfield and brownfield projects all in one. However, it’s not often that companies have the opportunity to go “green” and “brown” at the same time, noted Michael Redick, vice president, special operations.

“A combination of brownfield and greenfield is where you have a manufacturing presence and are looking to consolidate, upgrade or technologically improve what you do,” he explained. “That’s what happened here. We were looking at adding capacity and consolidating manufacturing facilities. The physical building here was not capable of handling expansion to a second line, so we added a greenfield piece to the back.”

AuroraPlant Following the consolidation of its downtown Chicago bakery last June, Gonnella moved a CraftMaster 52-inch bread and roll line. Supplied by Gemini Bakery Equipment/KB Systems, the low-stress makeup system produces both hearth and pan products from four inches up to 36 inches long. This spring, the company is doubling capacity by installing a second, twin CraftMaster line.

Each line can produce 9,600 rolls per hour or 2,640 Italian loaves. Gonnella’s most popular rolls typically range from nine to 12 inches in length while the loaves vary from 30 to 36 inches for its signature “extra longs.” Both lines feed the existing Pulver Genau 128-foot tunnel oven, which provides greater throughput than the old Chicago plant.

“Some of our largest customers are consistently ordering hearth-baked products,” said Tom Marcucci, vice president of sales and marketing. “We have several large — emphasize large — customers who are purchasing various sizes of French rolls by the trailer loads. These lines allow us to take our time and do things right by properly scheduling production, meeting specifications, offering precise consistency and ensuring high equality that exceeds what we have been able to do in the past.”

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