October 27, 2023

Episode #101: Jerry Lecy – Great Harvest Bread Co

Jerry has been owner and operator of Great Harvest in Lafayette, Indiana since 2007. He has been married to Janet for 32 years and has 6 children and (currently) 10 grandchildren. Loves God, his family, people, making an impact and hunting.

Great Harvest Bread Co. has been making bread and goodies in Lafayette since 1999. We focus on freshness by using simple and wholesome ingredients – we even grind our flour in-house. We have expanded our business over the years by adding tasty sandwiches and breakfast and lunch catering.


hello this is coach tim camsell and i’m your host for the self-made is a myth make a difference together show where

we’re talking with successful business owners to hear their stories of the journey to building their business and

because we know that success in business is not something that we can do on our own we recognize the folks that have

helped us to excel i’m excited to have a fellow business owner from indiana with us today my guest get check this out

it’s a is a high school dropout that never received a diploma but does have a college degree so we’re

going to want to ask him about that he enjoys playing games with his family and as well as

hunting and he’s most proud of his family and this is awesome and being a vikings fan

for over 45 years without them winning a single championship it is my pleasure to

welcome jerry to the show hello jerry hello tim thank you for having me

uh it is my pleasure well let’s start with having you introduce yourself tell us a little bit of your personal story

like where you were born where you live and about your family yeah so i was as as my my identification of a

vikings fan identifies i was actually born in minnesota and uh

way back in the 60s and we i grew up there and loved the the seasons

loved the the winters and all that stuff and uh as a matter of demon we had a little test

respite anyways a time frame that we moved down to florida for six years and i’m like get me out of here i need those

seasons back again well that’s part of what brought me back to indiana um but uh

uh married 31 years ago to my beautiful wife janet and

who has put up with me for these 31 years huge asset in my life so i mean it’s

it’s it’s amazing so there’s a lot a lot behind all that as well but um and uh we have six children

um five daughters that are in their twenties uh and then one unexpected

surprise that of a son that was born he’s now 13 years old and

and uh you know my funny story that my my my daughter you know now they get familiar with all my

stories and so they but the story about that is that you know we didn’t think things worked after you turned 40. you

know and so because people go oh you’re going after that boy and it’s like no no no no we didn’t think this worked and we you

know we just thought we were done and that’s awesome so

tell us a little bit more about the the no uh high school diploma but college degree that’s fascinating

yeah so they nowadays have some programs for dual credit or

post different platforms different states have different things and back then they didn’t have that but i was just ready to

be done with high school and so and i heard about another of my friends who

a year earlier than me was year older than me and she went to left high school after her

junior year and went on to college and people think that there’s a myth that colleges need a high school diploma in

order for them to accept you and that’s not true but most people do it that way and so i just

kind of said you know what i’m done let’s move on so i went to college got my four-year degree and and uh at that

point it’s irrelevant whether i have my high school diploma yeah wow that is a fun story thank you for sharing

so jerry tell us about how how the business came about and at what point did you have the confidence that you

could run your own business you know it’s an interesting well first of all we

were in full-time ministry we worked with high school students for 19 years and uh in minnesota for 13 of those

years and down in orlando for at the headquarters for six years

and you know just we thought we’d be lifers because we love one of the key pieces of who i am as a

person is is impact i want to make an impact in people’s lives and so um when we were down in orlando um we

had this this you know thought about you know do we want to move on kind of we had a

marriage issues going on and personal issues going on and just kind of like you know what do we want to consider another option

and as we began to to investigate we would start a dream i guess what it came down to and as we began the dream

we began to really feel led by god to say nope it’s time for you to move on and so i began to look at options and my

wife called me from a great harvest bread company in in bloomington

illinois and said i think i found the perfect business for us and so we began

to investigate the option of opening up our own great harvest possibly in orlando

but we also really want to get back to the midwest and as we express that to the the franchise when we put the our

application in one of the things that we um that she asked us about is where we were

from and my wife said she’s from the lafayette indiana area and as a result she was like well do you

know that bakery is for sale and like uh okay let’s do it so i took us about a

year after that point but uh made our move uh to or to india to lafayette and

and jump ourselves in and part of a funny story with that is the fact that we actually you know my wife grew up in

small town camden indiana 600 some odd people there and i grew up in minneapolis-st paul you

know large city and then we moved to orlando and all that stuff and she keeps talking she kept talking about wanting to move to a small small community and

i’m like that would just kill me it’s like ah you know i can’t handle that

people it’s like and so but but the interesting thing is that this lafayette community has been a perfect fit for us

in a lot of different ways but one of those being that the psy is you know good fit for me and for her and it’s a

great place so and the people are awesome but wonderful so what a what a

what an incredible way that uh god guided and directed you yes

so jerry tell us a little bit more about the company so great harvest is a freedom franchise

and the the cool thing about the freedom franchise is that it is all about you

know uh me as a local business owner everyone is locally owned and so it’s me as a local business owner being able to

take my bakery and fit it for what my community wants and to do what i want to do so there’s no cookie cutter within

great harvest you know there are a lot of recipes that i use and follow um people would expect you know certain

breads like you know and that’s then um that that you know the honey whole wheat or something like that that you

can get from a store to store but but honestly i don’t need to do those but because they’re so popular across the

system and across the nation it’s like of course i’m gonna do those so and they’re proven excuse me so um

but uh but one of the things about it is that i really do you know i’m also able to take my entrepreneurship desires and

and uh put it to action um and be able to make that happen um in how i want to

make this this bakery work for our community and for us and so it’s been it’s been a great fit and uh

we’ve really enjoyed being a part of it so yeah that’s okay as relates to the business itself i mean we

so i mean we are our main it’s interesting we’re called great harvest bread company

the interesting thing is that there’s another bread company called panera bread company and and you know we were

actually just there this morning it’s our annual tradition go to there forget bagels for the first day of school so

not anti panera and people even accommodate was like your competition it’s like no it’s actually not my

competition because you know they our mainstay is bread we sell an average 150

to 200 loaves a day of bread and you know when i asked the one of the guys i knew at panera i said

how many loaves of bread do you guys sell in a given day and he goes oh maybe 10 maybe 12 10 or 12. and so it’s like you know so

and that that’s that’s not their model it’s not who they are you know and so but for us you know we are a bread store

and so as a result of that we started making sandwiches a number of years ago because we thought man we’ve got a great bread

what makes it better but yeah that that is a huge part of what makes a great sandwich so let’s start making sandwiches and um so and then catering

and other things like that so yeah and i know you were talking offline earlier about uh catering and a number

of sandwiches so you you you can do big events as well from what i understand is that correct right we we’ve catered up

to 500 box lunches on a given day um this past week we had 25 30 different catering orders um intended over 750

sandwiches that we catered let alone people coming in for individual sandwiches and for their group of people

whatever type thing so so yeah it was a crazy busy week last week so jerry share a story where someone

pushed you or inspired you that you could do it even though you may not have thought you could and what the impact

that they had on you well kind of going back to a question you asked earlier that i didn’t address the

same but how it fits into with this as well but you know one of the interesting things about um

uh when you talk about um how i what was the question how i knew i could be uh successful yeah yeah you

know what’s interesting to me is that um i you know we all have our woundedness as

a child and different things that happen and different messages we believe and lies whatever type of thing and and so um

and then we then we compensate for those things and so when what’s interesting to me is that

when i first began into this business i had the mentality i can do this i’ve got

this i you know because i was overcompensating for that that the message is that i really felt that honestly that i i felt that i couldn’t

do it that i i wasn’t adequate i didn’t have what it takes and so i was like the

confidence was there but internally it wasn’t there and so so you know the answer to your

just the question you just asked is that i i didn’t need anybody because you know it’s like well i don’t need anybody i i

got this i can do this myself you know and don’t tell me what to do and all that kind of stuff so but um when we we had a huge failure in

in our business back 2011 2012 we we bought a second great

harvest in in the indianapolis area and um and of course

i did a dang good job here in lafayette i could do a great job you know bang up job down in

indianapolis as well and it flopped it didn’t do well i i couldn’t manage it i couldn’t handle it

you know personally and plus and everything else that was going on just in the business itself and a lot of

nuances with that so um but it was through that lesson that i

really began to realize hey i don’t have what it takes and i and number one i i

do have what it takes but i i need to find people around me and stuff like that so i had we had several people come

around us that time i had a guy named jeff pence that helped and his wife karine that helped us

significantly in in trying to figure out if it’s the right thing if we can make this thing work the second store

or if we need to release it and um and then i had you know once once that did wrap up there was a

business guy in town that uh that offered to do a low interest loan to you

know we we we bankrupted out that that company but we still had some residuals of that that we took against our bus

personally or against the business here and so as a result we uh we had this this you know this guy help us out to uh

offer us a loan and give us some input on how do we pick the pieces back up again and um and so and then of course

we had you know two other pieces of the puzzle that were still outstanding as far as our business loan for the current

business that we hadn’t paid off yet at that point and the owner of that was very gracious to you know to hold back

and let us you know take time to pay paid off and so so we got a lot of those and of course

through that process a lot of input a lot of help for us to be able to say how do we focus back here

and and what is valid for me as an entrepreneur to expand and go

versus to sit back and say no i need to just take what i have and really do well with what i what i have what i already

have going on so that’s a huge lesson for us so i appreciate you sharing that a lot of uh

a lot of us myself included do have that baggage that we bring forward from our our childhood right and and

and we do uh overcompensate for that and um you know our mindset is 90 of you

know whether we’re going to be successful in our business or not and right and the messages that we tell ourselves in our head and and to your

point whether we’re honest with ourselves about those messages so that we can have the opportunity to work

through them and and sort them out and and uh right to do the things that are required in

our business i appreciate you sharing that with us yeah and that’s part of my my my word impact that i love to see

that we are about here in this community and with others but you know we i have a men’s group that that i’ve been leading

that were helping other men to see some of those those areas in their lives and how do you deal with them effectively

and stuff like that so so it’s pretty it’s that’s so it’s kind of my story and

then how i can you know be involved helping others to find that their story um continue to along the journey so yeah

that’s awesome so jerry um over the years what would you say is your biggest learning as a business owner

um i answered that question i have it right here

don’t have my glasses on so i can’t see very well what question number is that uh

six okay um

yeah um yeah i mean i i i guess the the i mean it really comes down to i think i

already shared that just basically really trying to understand you know what i the the reality is that i

need to need other people number one number two that i that i need to not take so much i need to assess myself

effectively and be able to at that point be able to you know make decisions whether it be expansion or not or

whatever it may be but also be satisfied i think that was the thing is that you know one of the

things that my wife has identified and we had to work through in our marriage through the years is my bigness

um you know i was born ten pounds two ounces and i’m i was big you know you know and so you know it’s

and so i’ve had to realize it’s like hey my business is not my identity it’s not who i am um i you know i mean my size i

can’t adjust that very much but uh but i but i can you know adjust how big i come across and how demanding or how big i

can express myself to other people so so i think that’s a huge huge thing that i’ve

had to learn and that i don’t need to have a second location the third location and be you know growing and big

you know in order to be okay about who i am yeah i love it thank you again for for your transparency and i know that’ll

help a lot of people listening to this because you know we don’t have to we don’t have to be fake right we don’t have to pretend that we’re someone that

we’re not you know god’s created us to be exactly who we are and and we all have individual skills and and when we

leverage those you know we’re going to be successful in in whatever we do so

appreciate your vulnerability so jerry we know business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us

about one of your challenges that you’ve had over the years and a fellow business owner who came along to help you get

through that um you know i i think more specifically as

far as the aftermath of the the closure of our second vocation and and be able to focus back here you know i really

appreciate it you know my brother was significant in my life he’s been a business owner for for longer than i have i think since he

was probably 30 something years i think and uh he’s really has helped me to think through what what we need to do as

far as focusing in um how i can um and even right now i think we’re one of our biggest challenges we’re

experiencing now that he’s he’s guiding and helping me with as well but is the um um

you know i’m i’m 55 years old and i don’t have the stamina that i had even

five or ten years ago and so when we have 750 box lunches and and

stuff going out last week and i have to pick up the slack in order to and a couple of people did as well i’m

not not diminishing what they did as well but i had to work a lot of hours last week i got exhausted you know it’s like i

don’t manage this anymore it’s like you know it’s just this difficult and ironically we had a guy who was about 50

years old who started working for us one day he he jumped in he’s giving work for us one day last week

sorry he started last week he worked one day and said i can’t handle this pace and i’m like

and so but uh but you know he wasn’t the business owner so he he didn’t have he had a choice you know and so he walked

away from the job and i blessed him for that i mean that was that you know but um

and so so my challenge that i’m experiencing right now is is trying to figure out how do i then take

what um to find people whether it be a general manager or whether it be you know other people that are in key

positions and i’ve tried some of that and unfortunately some of them have not been the right people they’ve got

they’ve had the heart but maybe not the skills to be able to effectively lead and take other people you know to the

next level as well as our business to the next level so so i’ve that that’s the biggest challenge my brother’s

giving me some books to read and some other ideas and stuff like that and so but um but i also have a good friend his

name is rob and he’s been real significant as well to to kind of help me be about bounce ideas off of

um and so um yeah so and yeah so that’s your what’s your brother’s name

his name is john john right awesome yeah wonderful yeah having uh whether it’s reading

books or or you know outside people to talk to you being able to share ideas

and bounce ideas off of people it’s been a tough market uh the last couple years finding good quality people right with

the whole mass exodus or the great resignation and so one of the things that we we help

business owners with is that idea of let’s make sure we get the right people on the bus right they they fit the culture right there they’re aligned to

the vision of the company because it’s easier to to teach a skill than it is to to find

you know a good cultural fit and then teaching those skills can take time right

as a as a busy business owner we would love it to be like you train them once

and they pick it up and they run with it but the reality is it’s going to take multiple times and

and or having a manual or a video or something in place that they can refer back to when they forget because

inevitably they’re going to forget and and uh you know we’re we’re oftentimes too busy to be able to continue to

remind them of the things that they forget so right well and you mentioned the the climate

change i mean you know the the cult the change in the last couple years i mean one of the things that’s been interesting is that you know we you know

this whole push in different place states and different across the nation about the minimum wage

well the reality is that you know i don’t care what’s what’s what’s what’s legislated or not that minimum wage has

gone way up for me and so i can’t i you know i used to hire literally six years ago i’d hire somebody 850 an hour and

within the first month you need to get fired to get a raise and possibly that was nine dollars maybe nine and a quarter you know 9.50

and you know now it’s like man you know i i can get some high school kids for for maybe nine maybe ten

um but more likely ten and then you know but of course other people it’s 11 12 13 14 15 an hour that i have to be able to

to make that work and so so that’s been a huge thing that’s impacted the business um and so it’s not just

inflation that’s caused by bread prices and sandwiches to go up but that’s part of it as well sure absolutely

so jerry if i ask you to pick three people um in your business owner journey that you’re most grateful for being

there for you uh to help you with your your overall business growth who are they and how they help you

well i’ve already mentioned my brother john um that be one um and a guy named jeff kessler who owns a

jewelry store in town he’s been there in several occasions

he and his wife and my wife and i sat down on a couple occasions just to

dialogue through some some situations and how do we you know and just he’s given some wisdom and

input into what i had to do as a matter of fact as a matter of fact he gave the wisdom

probably uh i believe this was before maybe it was after but i think it was

before we uh took over that second location that he talked about the um the because we were always talking about

going to the west side so having a location on the west side and he was just cautioning me against

that that you know that really it could make an impact and you diversify and all kind of stuff and and you know obviously

i didn’t listen to him and so we you know we not only didn’t go to the west side of lafayette but we went down to

indianapolis and and obviously he was right i mean and so but uh but the good news is that he was there as well

afterwards to help help me pick up the pieces and move on from there um so

um and then and then there then i would say and i don’t i want this guy to go on name but but uh his name is terry i’ll

say that i guess but he he was he’s a business owner he was a bit he’s actually retired now business owner in

town that uh um he was the one that helped us with that finances and consolidating and as well as just again

you know getting us back on track with where we need to be and given the vision kind of helping to put help help me

think through the vision for what we want to be about and and i think that word impact go back to

the word impact that’s what we want to be about and for us to have you know five different locations

how am i effectively going to be able to impact people unless i have the right people in place and that’s that this

becomes that actually all the more difficult you know to make that happen so so

those peoples so jerry as you think about the next three to five years what are the biggest

challenges you’re going to face to get your goals and who are the types of people you’re going to need

to help you get through those well as i look at look ahead i mean i i

really as i already mentioned that you know that whole issue of my age and trying to how do i effectively do this i

really do need i i’ve been dialoguing already with some people

as it relates to how do we re re-org our reorganize reorganize our business so that we can

have effective leadership in place um but unfortunately you know we’re not

we’re doing well financially but we’re not doing great i think that that that faux pas of the the second location kind

of you know hit us big and so you know up until about two three years ago we finally paid those that all that

stuff off and so all i had to say is that i can’t just afford to say well dude i’ll just take a cup and pay you

know by 50 no big deal i’ll have somebody else run my business and i’ll just i can’t afford to do that so so

i’ve still got to figure out how do i supplement that or how do i make that work and find the right people in the

right situations and i think that’s where you know there’s there’s two people that i need in general um one is

the people that are helping me you know with my brother and and um uh

the other person that we were talking with about that anyways um that that they’re helping me think through the organizational aspect of things

sorry his name is uh doug griffin um has been helping me think through how do i do that effectively and then the second

people of course that i need in my around me are those people that will step up into those roles to be effective

in in running the place without me there and growing the business even even greater

than what it is so yeah there’s a it’s a an often a

conundrum of right do we do we invest in in the growth and what we need for the

next couple years right and and then there’s that challenge of well how do i how do i lean forward into that so um my

coach always you know challenges me she says well tim are you going to plan for a success or you’re going to plan for

failure right and then it’s like okay well that’s that’s a good this is great question i’m going to plan for success

and then we get into the details in terms of all right now what are the baby steps right what are the things that we

that you need to do in order to to start moving towards you know hiring those people and and you know figuring that

out right and i think and that’s one of the things that doug has been helping me think through uh is about having them

the new people i hire set goals and and kind of holding the standards about accountability and stuff like that

because if if they are if i bring them on just to manage

then then i’m like i’m going to lose money it’s not going to do well but if i bring them on to

um to and they say hey this is your goals you need to set goals to pursue this and this and make the business grow

um at that point then then we’ll begin to see the return financially happening and so then you know i don’t need to be our

sales will go up which will help the the bottom line in my pocket yes yeah yeah

setting um key performance indicators or goals for our employees is critical it’s not something that that most uh of us

do or think to do but left to our own our own doing we’re all going to be less effective and less

efficient than we could be so you know having having those goals in place holding our team accountable to them

having regular check-ins and reviews with them really helps to accelerate their performance and then the other

thing you you kind of alluded to it earlier is the principle of you know higher slow and fire fast right so you

know take our time to make sure that they are going to be the right fit for our company and they’re you know they’re

going to fit into our mold and our our values and our beliefs and yeah got the skills that are required but then if we

bring them on and they’re not working out right we we can’t afford to to continue to pay them so you know putting

together a you know a 90-day you know ramp-up plan and and and having that

90-day key performance indicators and you know if they don’t if they’re not hitting their 90-day goals then that

means that you know they’re not the right fit for the company yeah um jerry if uh

well actually not if my one of my favorite authors jim rohn he says if we become or if he says we become the

average of the five people that we spend the most time with so as you think about this what advice do you have for other

business owners who may be trying to do it on their own

you know networking is huge because i think that that’s the thing is that i like

if i were to you know of course my wife fits into that that category as far as who i spend the most time with

um and so but my wife is by nature a reserved

not risk taker non-risk taker and and i am and so you know if i just

simply listen to my wife which you know i love her to death and she has been so good for me because

there are times when i needed to hear that that that caution that uh that i

wanted to move forward on something and so um but but if i was to be if i had five people like her around me you know

i i wouldn’t i would be able to number one excel for who i god created me to be but number two i wouldn’t be in my

business wouldn’t go anywhere and so i think that but so so therefore finding

people around me and that’s where you know finding the right people in networking and honestly networking

groups are great and there’s some great value to some of those um however i think that that the one and one times

and finding those people that you’re like man i i could learn something from that person right is huge because then you’ll be able to

you know pick their brains or and and hopefully it would be a mutual you know

encouragement and challenge one to another in in that kind of a situation but being able to do it you know more

one-on-one or in small groups as opposed to you know the the big groups and just you know oh i get to know this person

that person but yeah so yeah um thank thank you for sharing that it

it makes me think of too that a lot of times i see that

partner business owners often are opposite right and so the the whole that the

phrase of opposites attract you just mentioned it that you and your wife are opposite my wife and i are opposite

often times business partners are opposite too and and it can be both a challenge and a

frustration right as we rub each other but then when we understand that we need the

opposite opinion and the opposite perspective to help us right see the world whole and make good

good business decisions then we become more open to the idea of all right i do

want to understand right the opposite point of view so that i can compare that to my point of view and make a good

business decision here well and then the word respect comes my mind in that because obviously it is

respecting the fact that you know and that you know that’s why i don’t know everything i don’t understand me and my

personality the way i operate does may not get me down the right path and so i need to respect my wife and you

respect other people and their their perspective and their thoughts because you know and ultimately you know there

are times of me it is my decision that i need to make a decision and go forward and um but but i do want to hear what

other people are saying because you know their their input and their difference in how their personality operates and

how they operate differently with their businesses or whatever is is valuable and so

yeah makes sense so jerry last question here if there was something catastrophic that happened to the business who’s the first

person you’d call and what would you want from them um

well one of the things that you’ve probably heard me alluding to but i mean family is huge to me and so you

know both you know both my my brother um as well of course my wife um you know those would be the first two people that

that i would you know give a call to but um you know i think my friend doug is is significant in how he has been helpful

um and and trying to figure out what’s the next steps with these things and so um but uh yeah it’s it’s and and i think

that even you know i think i’ve raised some good kids as well and so i’ve got a lot of you know 20 something year old

daughters that that and their how their their their husbands that are would be significant as well to be able to to

gather input from and stuff like that so um yeah i you know i

part and part of it too is is my faith in god and just the trust in the sense of you know that he you know double

catastrophic i mean i guess no one can imagine you know kind of speculate what that what that would be but uh but you know but obviously you

know it’s like you know i i you know i need to take a you know rest at the moment in this fact hey god’s in control

i’m gonna trust him you know so you know i guess first and foremost going to him probably and then then being able to talk to others you know about okay so

here’s the situation where do we go yeah i love it so jerry it sounds like you’ve been blessed

with some incredible people in your life that have helped you on your journey if they were all here on the show today

what would you want to say to them thank you

okay i i i am a very different man

today than what i was even five years ago let alone 15 years ago when we bought this business

and of course let alone when i was five years old um and so you know that’s because of the

people around me that have have been willing to speak truth into my life

have been willing to to show me you know give give me guidance and input

and so so i guess i’m speaking third person as opposed to to them as

you ask but but thank you is really a huge part of because they have been so instrumental in in uh helping me to

become the man that i am today and the business owner am today and and god knows i have a long way to go

yet but uh we’re on fantastic so jerry it’s been a pleasure

speaking with you today and i appreciate having you on the show thanks tim it’s been awesome to be here

so i trust that that the words of my mouth and your mouth

today may impact other people in a positive way so indeed awesome so

for everyone who’s tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show with your host coach tim camsell be

sure to help us spread this movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join our

movement go to be mad together.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and i’ll see you all next

time take care