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This article was published 3/10/2010 (3670 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A little patience paid big dividends for two German entrepreneurs who moved to Manitoba four years ago to open a European-style bakery.
Andreas Ingenfeld and Friederike Brandt had to wait three years before they were in a position to launch their new venture. But the wait was definitely worth it, because their Crusty Bun Bakery & Cafe on St. Mary's Road has been a smashing success since it opened in March of last year, the husband-and-wife team said in an interview.
Their staff of four has grown to 13, including four bakers, and it's still all they can do to keep up with the demand for their homemade fare.
For example, Ingenfeld said, their leased premises are equipped for a drive-thru service, but they haven't had time to set it up.
That's also why they have no immediate plans to open another retail outlet elsewhere in the city, even though they'd probably have enough customers to support a second store.
"We want to maintain quality control and make sure everything is done the way we want it to be," Brandt said. "And this is all we can handle right now."
Ingenfeld and Brandt came to Canada under the provincial nominee program for skilled workers. He was a master baker in Germany and she has a background in business administration.
It took them three years to open their own bakery because they wanted to make sure they had the right location, the right equipment and the right suppliers for the ingredients they need to make their made-from-scratch breads, buns, cakes, pastries, cookies, pretzels, jams, soups and sandwiches.
And unlike in Germany, there wasn't a one-stop-shop here where they could go and buy everything they needed to start a bakery.
"Here, we had to buy the ovens from the East Coast, the counters from the West Coast, and the mixers from the U.S,," Ingenfeld said.
While they were laying the groundwork for their business start-up, the couple worked for a local seniors' residence -- Dakota House -- which had its own in-house bakery and sponsored them. Not only did their time there provide them with a steady income and enable them to save up some money, but they also got to see first-hand how Canadians would respond to their European-style products.
"We had great feedback and got lots of other customers who were coming to Dakota House to buy our bread," Brandt said.
It also gave Brandt time to enrol in a three-day business-planning workshop offered through the Canada Manitoba Business Service Centre on Graham Avenue. "It was a general overview, but a very good one," she said.
For example, she had no idea which permits they needed to start up a bakery in Winnipeg, and the workshop gave her the answers she needed.
The director of the province's Small Business Development Branch, which delivers the workshop, said the sessions are useful for both first-timers and existing business operators because they address such issues as how to effectively market and advertise your business.
Tony Romeo said the CMBSC offers 30 of the workshops each year -- 20 in Winnipeg and 10 in rural Manitoba. They average about 800 participants a year, and graduates are also eligible to apply for up to $30,000 in government loan guarantees offered through the Business Start Program.
Romeo said the loan guarantees provide them with some working capital and make it easier for them to qualify for conventional financing.
Despite all their planning and preparation, Brandt said they still encountered plenty of challenges once their business was up and running.
"The first few weeks were hell. So much work and no sleep. And everything that could possibly go wrong, did. But we told ourselves it can only get better, and it did."
They still get a chuckle when they recall how, on the first day, they got a quick lesson in the different eating habits of Canadians and Germans.
Brandt said Germans like breads and buns with their morning coffee, and pastries in the afternoon.
"So we had all of our buns and breads out, but everybody wanted pastries," Brandt said. "So we had to make some quick adjustments."
Now, a year and a half later, they couldn't be happier with their entrepreneurial lot in life.
"We can't imagine working for someone else," Ingenfeld said.
Help for entrepreneurs
The Canada Manitoba Business Service Centre offers a three-day business-planning workshop as part of its Business Start Program.
Here are some of the topics covered in the workshop:
-- advantages and disadvantages of going into business;
-- what you need to start a business (permits, etc.);
-- forms of business organization;
-- resources available to small businesses;
-- components of a business plan;
-- accounting, bookkeeping, financial statements;
-- collecting and submitting PST and GST;
-- financial management;
-- business management;
-- pricing and distribution.
For more information, check the service centre's website at www.canadamanitoba.mb.ca, or call it at 984-2272 or toll free 1-800-665-2019.
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