THOMASVILLE — More than 125 employees of Flowers Baking Company of Thomasville gathered outside the historic bakery at 300 South Madison St. on Monday to commemorate the November 4, 1919 founding of the bakery that would become Flowers Foods.
Addressing the group in front of a 20-foot tall newly-lit sign proclaiming, “Baking Strong for 100 Years,” Chris Mulford, general manager of the bakery, read from an article published in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise on Wednesday November 5, 1919.
“Flowers Quality Bread is on the market today for the first time,” read Mulford. “The splendid plant for bread making was operated for the first time yesterday. Five hundred loaves were sold this morning in the city.”
Today, 100 years later, Flowers Foods operates 47 bakeries in 18 states, producing such well-known brands as Nature’s Own, Dave’s Killer Bread, Wonder, and Tastykake.Flowers Foods President and CEO Ryals McMullian also addressed the group, thanking those present for their service and remembering the thousands of women and men who have worked at the bakery over the years.
“The walls of the bakery are not the only thing that has survived for the last 100 years,” McMullian said. “What remains is the passion of our team in Thomasville and across the country — the passion for the company, for making quality products, and for helping each other. If you ask me that’s really where the secret lies to all of our success over the years.
“The true power behind our performance are the people of Flowers,” he continued. “That is the hallmark of Flowers and will continue to be the hallmark of Flowers going forward into the future and I thank you for all that you do every day.”
McMullian said the company’s growth would not have been possible without community support and announced a donation of approximately one million meals to Feeding America. Half of those meals will be served in local communities through Second Harvest of South Georgia, a Feeding America partner that covers 26 counties.
Frank Richards, president and CEO of Second Harvest of South Georgia, attended the lighting ceremony and thanked employees and the company for helping feed the local community.
“It’s amazing what this company does every day in our South Georgia community,” Richards said, noting that Flowers has maintained a long-term commitment to ensuring that each child fed through the organization’s Kids Café receives a serving of whole grain bread. The program feeds thousands of children a day during the school year, and double that number in the summer.
“We could not be more proud of that long-term gift that Flowers has been for us,” he said. “We’re just thankful for that.”
The Thomasville bakery has been in continuous operation since opening, with expansions over time to accommodate growing volume and the production of additional bakery items. Today, the 132,000-square-foot bakery operates two bread lines and one line each for buns, donuts and honey buns. Its market area stretches approximately 400 miles and includes central and southwest Georgia southeast Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. The bakery operates as a subsidiary of Flowers Foods.
The company employs more than 1,000 people locally and approximately 9,200 companywide. Flowers operates 47 bakeries that produce a wide range of bakery products sold through an extensive direct-store-delivery network and other delivery systems.