Clyde’s Donuts: Making One Million Donuts a Day in the Chicago Suburbs
From The Daily Herald:
Q& A with Josh Bickford
Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Clyde’s Donuts
Q: Describe your company. What product(s) do you make and what are they used for?
A: Clyde’s Donuts is a 102-year-old, family-owned and family-operated producer of doughnuts for in-store bakeries and food service providers nationally. Local partners include Jewel-Osco, which we’ve had a partnership with for well over 40 years, Caputo’s and others. One of the things that makes Clyde’s special is that we only make doughnuts and we love putting smiles on peoples’ faces with our product.
Q: Describe the process of making your products.
A: Clyde’s Donuts produces more than one million glazed doughnuts, filled doughnuts, doughnut holes and other varieties per day, six days per week. We follow the same high-quality, handcrafted batch recipes our family has used for over 100 years, employing safe, modern manufacturing techniques and commercial equipment to ensure quality and freshness. All our doughnuts are mixed in one room and then sheeted, cut into favorite shapes like rings, stars or hearts, fried and then packaged in a variety of formats before being shipped across the country.
Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: Absolutely! Everyone loves doughnuts, and the Clyde’s Donuts brand continues to spread rapidly across the country. Last year, we knew how important it would be to keep investing in our new concepts and capabilities, which made finding a second location a top priority. For such a significant investment, we knew we needed to enlist the experts and so tapped Kelly Disser and his team at NAI Hiffman, the largest independent commercial real estate services firm in the Midwest. They’ve been a great partner. Working with them, we found a site for and are developing a new 153,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art food production and distribution facility at 85 W. Army Trail Road in Glendale Heights that will allow us to continue to expand for years to come. It’s scheduled to open this summer and will employ more than 200 people at full capacity.
We wanted to make sure we weighed all our options for locations, so after getting to know our business and needs Kelly and his group did an exhaustive search for us across 15 markets nationally, including Chicago. The process included analyzing everything from utility costs to transportation and logistics. Ultimately, we chose DuPage County for its labor pool, competitive operating costs and proximity to Lake Michigan — which was important since we use the water in our manufacturing process. Kelly and his crew helped us find a building already under construction that we could customize for our needs. While we looked all over the country for the next location for Clyde’s, at the end of the day, the right place was basically in our backyard.
Q: Do you have enough space in your current facility or are you looking to expand/find a new facility?
A: We’re excited that our new facility in Glendale Heights, which we call “85 West,” is designed as a second facility with room to grow into the future. In addition to helping us find the ideal location, NAI Hiffman was also a great resource for us in terms of helping us put together the key players to construct and build the facility, working with Glendale Heights and negotiating our lease.
Q: What will your company’s main challenges be in the next year?
A: We plan to add nearly 200 jobs in the local area. Finding labor continues to be a challenge everywhere, but we provide some great benefits and opportunities that will help us attract talent. We’re eager to hire the right people and will be actively recruiting to find and bring them on board.
Q: What’s the hottest trend in your industry?
A: The tried-and-true doughnut varieties continue to be popular — think classics like the glazed doughnut. There’s also tremendous interest today in creative flavor variations, many of which are offered seasonally or around the holidays — like authentic apple cider doughnuts and glazed pumpkin fritters in the fall, or traditional paczki pastries around Fat Tuesday.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: We love what we do — our tag line is “Smiles All Around!” We’re a 102-year-old family-owned, family-operated business that’s committed to producing products our customers enjoy. We missed being able to celebrate our 100-year anniversary, which fell during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s really the next 100 years we’re focusing on.
Q: What is one interesting fact about your company that most people may not know?
A: Some of the history that only loyal Clyde’s fans will know is that at one point we had five retail doughnut shops in Chicago under the name The Donut Whole. The company started in Chicago in 1920 at 633 W. Webster Ave. on the site that is now Oz Park in Lincoln Park. For many decades after that we made doughnuts every morning at 2500 W. Chicago Ave. before ultimately moving to Addison in 1990.
Q: What are the benefits to you of making your product(s) here in the Chicago suburbs?
A: While we have a national brand and distribution, it’s great to be able to call the Chicago suburbs home. While operating a business in Illinois can be challenging in comparison to some of our neighboring states, we focus on the benefits of a large municipal area, including a great labor pool and resources, as well as our ability to continue to give back to the communities that have made us successful for over 100 years.
On a national scale, our central location affords us access to Chicagoland as well as good logistics for shipments across the country. Baking and the food industry has a long history in Chicago, and we’re proud to be part of continuing that tradition today.
Q: If you could make any product other than what you do make, what would it be?
A: Right now, we love making doughnuts! But we’re always looking for ways to give people a reason to smile — everyone’s got a sweet tooth!
Q: If you could pick someone famous to promote your product, who would it be?
A: For decades in Chicago we actually had our very own celebrity, Mike Buhrmann (now enjoying retirement), still known to us and many customers as “The Donut Guy.” He was an excellent emblem of our product, the joy of baking, and the Clyde’s Donuts brand — one that so far we have not replaced.
Read the article online in The Daily Herald.