The Fifth Annual Family Legacy Dinner featured the Gillespie Family, owners of COBS Bread. All five members of the Gillespie family were on stage, including Co-CEOs Roger and Lesley Gillespie, Aaron and Elise Gillespie and David Christie. This company, founded in Australia in 1980, is the world’s most successful franchise bakery chain employing approximately 15,000 people in over 700 bakeries across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
Interestingly, COBS Bread is a family business, built on a foundation of family businesses. Many of the bakeries are franchised by first, second, and sometimes third generation owners and operators. At the Gala, the Gillespies explained that this is one of the reasons for the success of the business. Aaron stated, “It’s about the local business being run by the local family -- the franchise… people want to go back and be connected with their local businesses. I don’t think there’s anything more local than the local bakery run by the local family franchise.” Elise expanded on the idea saying, “I think it’s the way we’re a big business but we still have that family feeling you get from a small business because we’ve got so many families within COBS Bread. There’s that passion and that love that you get from being part of a larger family.”
The opportunities available to employees and the culture of developing people is another success factor. Lesley stressed that their family values are embedded in the business and they emphasize giving more than they get, whether it’s through charitable donations, or the support of community organizations, and giving people the second, third or fourth chance. As Roger stated, “people are the heart of the business.”
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