"I learned everything I could about the commercial production of traditional baked goods by doing research and calling companies like Mrs. Fields and Famous Amos," said Sean Perich, president and founder of Bakery Barn Inc. in Baldwin.
A Duquesne University graduate and former KPMG accountant who currently works as a consultant for Downtown professional services firm of Jefferson Wells International, Mr. Perich sees his lack of baking experience as a plus.
"The biggest advantage I had was that I knew nothing about baking.
I was able to think outside the box and figure out what should work."
, 34, blew up a mixer when he
tried to make his
first batch of protein-fortified chocolate chip cookies at his
apartment in August 2000.
For the next nine months, he
experimented with new ingredients and kept improving the protein cookies, which he
"tested" on family members and friends at a local gym.
A weight lifter since age 16, Mr. Perich
was accustomed to eating sports nutrition bars in order to increase his
daily intake of protein.
never found one that pleased his
Starting Bakery Barn was his
way of meeting not only his
own dietary needs, but also those of sports enthusiasts.
After getting a thumbs-up on the taste, Mr. Perich
was ready to take his
baking to the level of commercial production.
put together more than $200,000 to start the business through a line of credit, personal financing and financial assistance from his
leased a 4,000-square-foot building in May 2001 and began purchasing equipment.
started with chocolate chip, toffee bit, peanut butter chip and butterscotch chip as its original flavors.
The cookies, which sell for $2.49 each, are made with whey protein, which Mr. Perich
said has the highest rated commercially available protein.
Though the price might seem high for cookies that weigh 3 to 3.5 ounces, Mr. Perich
compares their cost to that of nutritional energy bars, which he
said generally run between $2 and $3.
said each cookie contains about 48 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein, which is equivalent to six ounces of chicken breast or a can of tuna fish.
Although production did not officially get under way until early January, the company expects to finish 2002 with just under $400,000 in gross revenue.
forecasts he'll hit about $1 million in revenue for 2003.
hopes to be profitable by next year's first quarter and is working to obtain national accounts with supplement stores and fitness centers, using a network of distributors to sell to gyms and stores in 40 states and Canada.
is not aware of a domestic competitor that produces baked goods with such a high-protein content.