In a quaint village in New York lies a 100-year-old, family-run bakery that thrives on providing quality products. The original inhabitants of what is now the Village of Port Chester were wandering tribes of Mohegan Indians. In 1660, the village, also known as Rye Town, received its first white settlers.
Throughout the years, New York and Connecticut battled over the rights to Rye Town, until 1788 when New York established the Town of Rye’s boundaries. After the Revolutionary War, the area was rebuilt and became a shipping and shipbuilding stronghold, earning it recognition as an important steamboat stop and a title as the eastern “port of Westchester.”
Approximately 80 years later, Port Chester was incorporated as a village. In 1910, Paul Neri founded AP Neri & Sons, which today is known asNeri’s Bakery.
Throughout the years, Port Chester saw strong commercial growth. By 1950, the village had companies such as Life Savers, Empire Brush Works, Arnold Bread, Fruit of the Loom, and Russell Burdsall Nut & Bolt Co. calling it home, and it transitioned from a port and trading center to a manufacturing center.
But during the 1970s, things began to change, and the companies that thrived during Port Chester’s manufacturing boom began leaving town. In 1984, Life Savers shut its factory and was the last major manufacturer to leave the village.
But 74 years after opening its doors, Neri’s Bakery was still going strong, providing consumers with fresh breads, bagels, cakes, pies, and cookies. Today, the bakery has expanded its service offering to include products for the foodservice industry, restaurants, delis, hospitals, and convalescent homes nationwide, and it’s a supplier to food marketer and distributor Sysco.
Port Chester has also regained its health in recent years due to a burgeoning retail and service economy. The Waterfront at Port Chester retail center, for example, brought to the village a movie theater; Costco; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Super Stop & Shop; and Marshall’s, among others.
Ancestors from the village’s industrial inhabitants, including families from Italy, Germany, Poland, and Ireland, as well as newcomers from Central and South America and the Caribbean, have helped Port Chester regain its vitality and develop a multifaceted culture. As for Neri’s Bakery, the founders’ grandsons, Dominick Neri, president and CEO, and Paul Neri, vice president of production, told Food & Drink Digital that one thing has kept it alive.
“What keeps customers coming back is a continuity of product quality,” they said. That sentiment goes hand in hand with the company’s mission, which is “to be the supplier of choice by producing a broad range of quality bakery products along with services [that] consistently satisfy customer expectations.”
Change in operations
With two 180,000-square-foot production facilities in Port Chester, as well as an office and 80,000-square-foot addition tying the buildings together, it’s no wonder Neri’s Bakery focuses on energy conservation. During the past few years, the bakery has implemented numerous energy-saving programs.
“Through the watt-reduction program sponsored by Con Edison and Public Energy Solutions, we’ve changed all of our lighting from 460-watt metal halide lights to 188 fluorescent reflective lights,” said Dominick Cicatelli, vice president of operations, in 2008. “It’s reduced our energy consumption from lighting in half with a realized savings of approximately $70,000 per year.”
Neri’s Bakery also buys electricity and gas directly off the New York Mercantile Exchange, which Cicatelli said saves $250,000 annually. The bakery switched from electric to time-stamp meters that monitor electricity usage every 30 minutes and enable the bakery to schedule production for off-peak rate times.
“We also purchased a new 2,000 AMP standby generator for one of our buildings, replacing a 1,000 AMP. This was purchased with growth in mind and to never have down time,” Cicatelli said.
The bakery works with companies like Clean Air Quality Service, which has been incorporated for more than 15 years and specializes in large commercial projects for the HVAC/R service industry. Some of CAQS’ customers include office buildings, retail stores, shopping centers, medical institutions such as hospitals and pharmaceutical laboratories, food and beverage facilities, government buildings, power generation plants, water treatment plants, and residences.
Within the last two years, Neri’s Bakery upgraded and added to its operations. It purchased a depositor from Unifiller for its toaster cake operation, upgraded its refrigeration network, and installed two 6,000-gallon liquid ingredient tanks and two 100,000-pound horizontal flour silos within the past few years. The upgrades brought the bakery’s silo count to six and its on-site capacity to more than 700,000 pounds.
In 2008, Neri’s Bakery also changed its ingredients. “This year we have eliminated high fructose corn syrup from our baking. We have replaced it with sucrose (liquid cane sugar),” said Cicatelli. “We have also moved aggressively in developing more whole wheat and multigrain products.”
With such forward-thinking changes in the past five years, it is no wonder Neri’s Bakery has been successful for the last 100.