Top 250 Franchise by Entrepreneur – Rank no. 167 -Great Harvest Franchising Inc. – US
Products & Services: Bread bakery
Number of Locations: 212
Total Investment: $111.88K – 593.67K
Began Franchising: 1978
About Great Harvest Franchising Inc.
Pete Wakeman had been baking bread most of his life. As a child, he would help his aunt. In high school, he baked for his friends. During summer vacations, he sold bread from the roadside. In 1976, when Wakeman heard about a bakery in Great Falls, Montana, that was going under, he bought it. With the help of his wife, Laura, Wakeman established the Great Harvest Bread Co. and set about baking loaves for people in the Great Falls community.
Soon, people from neighboring communities started asking about setting up their own Great Harvest locations. The first franchise opened in Kalispell, Montana. In 1983, the Wakemans converted their Great Falls bakery into a franchise and moved company headquarters to Dillon, Montana, so they could concentrate on the franchising end of their business.
Great Harvest bakeries serve a variety of breads each day including honey whole wheat, white cheddar garlic, sunflower and cranberry orange.
Where Seeking Franchisees: Franchisor is seeking new franchise units throughout the U.S.
Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing
Total Investment: $111,892 – $593,676
Franchise Fee: $38,000
Ongoing Royalty Fee: 4-7%
Term of Franchise Agreement: 10 years, renewable
Net Worth: $350,000
Liquid Cash Available: $80,000
20% of all franchisees own more than one unit. Number of employees needed to run franchised unit: 5 – 7. Absentee ownership of franchise is NOT allowed. (100% of current franchisees are owner/operators).
How This Franchise Supports Franchisees
Training: Available at headquarters: 1 week. At franchisee’s location: 1 week. At existing locations : 2 weeks.
Ongoing Support: Newsletter, Meetings, Toll-free phone line, Grand opening, Internet, Security/safety procedures, Field operations/evaluations, Purchasing cooperatives, Lease Negotiation
Marketing Support: Co-op advertising, Ad slicks, Regional advertising,
Other marketing support: PR campaign during opening, monthly marketing promotions, annual marketing plan
Franchise Ranking History
Franchise 500®: #167 (2013), #166 (2012), #155 (2011), #193 (2010), #290 (2009),
America’s Top Global: #151 (2010),
It all began back in the 1970s. Our founders, Pete and Laura Wakeman, were just a couple of college kids who baked amazing scratch-made whole grain bread to help pay their tuition at Cornell University. Newly married in 1975, the adventurous couple hiked the entire north-south length of Montana. They never left and they established the first Great Harvest Bakery in Great Falls.
Word spread fast about their uniquely flavorful bread made with pure-and-simple ingredients and wheat purchased from local farmers. It didn’t take long before neighbors asked about starting up their own Great Harvest. In 1978, the freedom franchise was born and the next bakery opened in Kalispell, Montana.
Slowly and organically, Great Harvest began to grow into the nation’s first family of independently owned and operated whole grain bread bakeries. Authenticity, a spirit of camaraderie and individuality remain the foundation of the organization. Today there are more than 200 Great Harvest bakeries located across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
In 2001, the Wakemans sold the company to Chairman Nido Qubein, President/CEO Mike Ferretti and a group of partners. Today, Mike and Nido own 100% of the company and Mike is active in the day to day operations. Mike was has always been passionate about preserving the Great Harvest philosophy and strengthening it. With Ferretti at the helm, the first Franchise Agreement Board was formed. This allowed an elected board of bakery owners to approve all future changes to the franchise agreement. Big strides have been made in other areas, too. Now many bakeries across the country offer customers awesome sandwiches and panini, and full-service coffee and espresso bars. The most exciting development is Great Harvest’s new offering of European-style hard-crusted breads, including whole grain varieties, at an increasing number of bakeries.
Mike Ferretti is a regular contributor to our Bread Business Blog. You can subscribe to learn more about him and his vision for Great Harvest.
Whole Wheat Bread
Most franchises of this variety require their owners to do things their way, with little or no variation. Cookie cutter-style. That’s because the franchisor is trying to build a national brand, the foundation of which is consistency. The problem with this sort of franchise, if you’re an entrepreneur-type, is that they aren’t very much fun. All the good stuff about opening your own business – figuring out what you want to offer and what color the walls will be – aren’t your decisions to make. They’ve already been made.
At the other end of things is starting up and running your own Mom and Pop shop. There you have all the freedom in the world to create this thing just the way you want, but you’re flying solo, with no one else to lean on. That’s why so many start-ups fail.
We provide you with middle ground between the advantages of a traditional franchise and the fun of a let’s-do-it-all-ourselves start-up. Our philosophy is simple. Let’s create unique neighborhood bakeries that are a reflection of the Great Harvest brand and the bakery owner. We are no cookie cutter franchise. We are a freedom-based franchise that encourages excellence and individuality, not to mention a spirit of fun and generosity.
“Designing a Life”
28 S. Montana Street
Dillon, MT 59725
Phone:800-442-0424 or 406-683-6842