In 2007, Linda Fitzerman discovered she was gluten intolerant. So, she stopped consuming gluten-containing foods, and her health quickly improved. However, she missed and craved delicious breads and other foods she could no longer enjoy, and was disappointed by the lack of gluten-free products available. So, in 2010, she put on her apron, went to her kitchen and began experimenting. A year and a half later, and Local Oven was born.
Local Oven, Carrollton, Texas, makes frozen gluten-free baked goods and wheat-based products, including gluten-free pasta imported directly from Italy for the restaurant and hotel industry, including The Hyatt, Fuddruckers, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Schlotzsky’s and The Ritz-Carlton, as well as industrial gluten-free manufacturers and gluten-free wholesale distributors. In fact, a large part of the business is co-packing for other gluten-free manufacturers.
In 2012, Local Oven grew into a 3,500-square-foot commercial facility, then soon expanded into the adjacent space for a total of 8,000 square feet. Demand continued to grow, so the company moved to a 30,000-square-foot location to facilitate the equipment required to make 70,000 pounds of croutons a month, as well as a range of breads and baked products.
Local Oven attributes its success to efficient and safe processes, products made under the highest quality standards and strong strategic partners, including Heat and Control, Inc., Hayward, Calif.
“Heat and Control’s equipment allowed us to grow into those quantities, so that we could service the customer with the right price and great quality, and the quality is second to none because the equipment is second to none,” says Fitzerman.
Local Oven uses Heat and Control’s Spray Dynamic Seasoning System to consistently reproduce Fitzerman’s recipes. The coating drum was designed, engineered and manufactured to Local Oven’s specific product requirements, and is available in several sizes and configurations should additional lines be needed as the company grows. The shell-in-shell drum provides sanitary operation and simple cleaning, and the variable tilt frame assembly and product flight design exposes each piece of product to the application of liquid and/or dry coatings.
To ensure products are of the highest quality, all finished goods go through a CEIA THS metal detector to screen for metal contaminants that may have slipped into manufacturing process.
“Those metal detectors were an amazing peace of mind because we have great procedures in place, and we take them seriously,” adds Fitzerman.
“If it were not for Heat and Control’s guidance and compassion and understanding of working with a company that was small in nature but had a great product to produce, we would have failed. If it were not for (Heat and Control’s) equipment, we would not have been able to accept the purchase orders for companies that entrusted us to produce their product. We would have failed; we would have failed miserably. We’re a small manufacturer. Heat and Control was willing to walk us through the entire process of how to manufacture croutons,” according to Fitzerman’s husband, Todd, who handles the operational side of the business.
After Heat and Control helped Local Oven determine the optimal equipment for their needs, installation went flawlessly.
“Heat and Control has never let us down. They have been with us every step of the way during our manufacturing journey and why we continue to go to Heat and Control as we grow and we need new pieces of equipment. If you’re a small business owner, you need to align yourself with good, solid, strategic partners, and Heat and Control is where you need to spend your money because they won’t let you down,” he adds.