Clean, spacious and efficient
In 1994, a bakery with a conscience opened its doors in Roxbury. It thrived. It was a boon to the Shirley Street neighborhood where it grew into a national brand, and with a double bottom line committed to both profitability and community activism it seemed to have found a permanent home. So why leave a neighborhood where you have established deep roots and found a pool of workers who meet your needs, whose skills and ethics align perfectly with your own? In a word: space. Using detached refrigerated trailers and shoehorned into two separate buildings totaling approximately 38,000 sq. ft. with low ceilings, inefficient in almost every way, including inadequate loading, unloading, production, packaging and inventory management, Dancing Deer Bakery had danced its way into a corner. There was nowhere left to grow.
Trish Karter, one of the company's founders and its current CEO conducted a long search throughout Roxbury trying to pin down someplace nearby where she could re-locate and continue to thrive. She loved being close to town, she loved the proximity to the highways, she loves the workforce and the neighborhood, and furthermore she felt the love coming back to Dancing Deer. Hers is a company that epitomizes enlightened self-interest. She does good to make good. Raising public awareness of homelessness is a big part of her mission. In Roxbury, there was no question that it worked. But sadly, it was not to be. She could not find a Roxbury site that met her needs. Ironically, her company was without a home.
Roxbury's loss is Hyde Park's gain. In 2008 Dancing Deer finally found a new home, 65 Sprague Street West A, a 47,500 sq. ft. facility in the Boston/Dedham Commerce Park owned by First Highland Management and Development Corp. Originally scheduled to open in September 2008, a surprise zoning problem precipitated by murky city boundaries proved to be a major and expensive set back for First Highland and too much of a close thing for Karter. After completely owning the fiasco, First Highland helped Dancing Deer open its Hyde Park bakery in November of 2008, just in time for the holidays!
Working late on a Monday night, Karter showed me around the new facility. "We can do everything the right way here." she remarked. It was plain to see. The facility, which was designed to increase Dancing Deer's production capacity by at least four times, sparkles with efficiency. With giant dough mixers beside walk-in ovens sitting adjacent to single purpose coolers alongside spacious packing and distribution areas and all of it designed to be easily cleaned and maintained, it's bakery heaven. It smells like it, too.
Dancing Deer employs approximately 70 people, but if she can weather the current financial storm, and it looks like she will, Karter can see a time when that number will rise significantly. Although First Highland spent the $1.5 million preparing the space for Karter and amortized it over the life of a 20 year lease, the move was an expensive one and with the economy in a nose dive, people aren't buying cookies or giving gifts at the rate that they were only months ago. Dancing Deer, like almost everyone else is pulling in its stakes. In order to keep as many of her loyal workers employed as possible, the company has implemented a shorter workweek and recently a small layoff. Still, with the efficiencies in the new location and ready access to a workforce she admires and to whom she feels committed, Karter is confident that Dancing Deer will be stronger at the other end. And so too, Hyde Park.