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Ex-Krispy Kreme Exec Takes Helm of Breadsmith <b></b>

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Milwaukee-Albert Hasse has turned his passion for hotglazed doughnuts into a love of fresh-baked bread. The former vicepresident of franchise operations for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc.has taken the reins of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin-based BreadsmithFranchising Inc., an eight-year-old company with 41 specialty breadstores across the country. Each of the franchise locations, whichare owner-operated, bake specialty breads, muffins andpastries.

Hasse, 36, replaces Breadsmith's founder, Dan Sterling, aspresident. Hasse is now in charge of the company's dailyoperations and franchise development, a job that will determine thegrowth of the company. Sterling, 44, will actively participate instrategic planning for the company as chairman and majoritystockholder.

"It had gotten to the point where it would really benefitus to have an experienced outside person run the company,"Sterling says. "I'm a great early-stage entrepreneur, butI looked at my skill sets and decided it would be best to bring inan industry veteran."

A Breadsmith employee who knew Hasse suggested that Sterlingrecruit him for the position. "It was just a really good fitfor both of us," Sterling says. "I think it's a realcoup for Breadsmith to get someone of Albert's caliber from ahot company like Krispy Kreme."

As president of Breadsmith, Hasse brings what he learned fromhis years at Krispy Kreme, a fast-growing chain of doughnut shopsthat's developed a cult-like following. The stores are knownfor their fresh-from-the-fryer doughnuts available whenever their"Hot Doughnuts Now" sign is glowing in the window.

Hasse says Krispy Kreme changed the way most people think aboutdoughnuts. No longer the stale pastries served at breakfastmeetings, people now crave hot doughnuts and even work the treatinto their daily commutes. Hasse hopes to turn heads forBreadsmith, too.

"Once you taste the fresh product, you never want to goback to what you were used to," Hasse says. "We're ona mission to show people there's a truly great experience theycan have with bread."

Breadsmith completed strategic planning meetings in July.Subjects included future expansion and long-term goals."We're going to focus on strengthening the foundation ofthe brand," Hasse says. "That's our first step, thenwe'd like to begin a conservative expansion."

Because Breadsmith's market is so narrow, it will take timeand precision to plan expansion. The majority of the company'sstores are in the Midwest, with a few scattered throughout the EastCoast, California and Texas. Hasse has some new markets in mind,but he'll let the research speak for itself, he says.

Hasse also hopes to lead new product development at the stores.While the company will keep its focus on specialty breads andfresh-baked sweets, he would like to see more products baked freshthroughout the day to appeal to commuters going to and from work.That would increase business in the evening hours, when customersbegin to taper off.

"I don't feel we're maximizing the potential ofwhat we can offer," he says. "If people know we'llhave hot, fresh bread ready for them on their way home from work,we can have a lot more customers stopping in at that time of theday."

Despite Hasse's past experience, Breadsmith's newproducts won't include hot doughnuts. "We'll leave thedoughnuts to Krispy Kreme, and Krispy Kreme will leave the bread tous," he says. -Milwaukee Business Journal

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