Transforming the future of food one loaf at a time
Smiths Falls’ rND bakery is transforming the future of food, one loaf of bread or bagel at a time. On the cusp of transitioning from a locally produced product to a provincial or national brand, rND is using an innovative steam-powered technique to create delicious gluten-free and vegan bread products.
Creating a “steam-powered” oat-based product is easier said than done, and rND founder and owner, Will Spencer, was the right man for the job. With a PhD in microbiology, and as a former research scientist, Spencer has been bringing his experience and background to rND since he founded the bakery in Smiths Falls in 2015.
“I brought a new category of bread to the food industry,” Spencer said of his steam-powered bread. “It’s a unique product, and there’s been a lot of interest from the natural food industry to carry our products.”
Spencer has turned to oats as the base for many of rND’s bread products due to its high nutritive value and promise as a food crop resistant to the impacts of climate change. Spencer is looking at creating a keto-based bread with less than 10 grams of carbs.
“It’s a unique product, and there’s been a lot of interest from the natural food industry to carry our products.”
– Will Spencer
Spencer credits Smiths Falls’ strong Economic Development department and support from Valley Heartland and ontrac Employment Resources as a strong contributor to the success the bakery has experienced over the past three and half years.
As demand for rND’s products grow, Spencer is looking at the feasibility of scaling up to the next level. Currently rND’s products are available at more than 30 businesses in the Ottawa and surrounding areas, and the bakery produces between 5,000 and 10,000 units a month. Spencer’s goal is to scale up to 100,000 units, while employing between 30 and 50 staff.
Spencer explained that when looking at increasing the size of the business, he wants to keep the footprint small, which will use less resources and be more efficient, and finding that kind of space is a challenge.
For Spencer, maintaining a location in Smiths Falls is paramount, operating in a community he calls “economically robust and fast growing,” and one that has provided a lot of support to the bakery over the years. With close proximity to the 401 and major urban centres, Spencer said remaining in Smiths Falls just makes sense.
Within five years, Spencer would like to see the bakery as fully independent when it comes to sourcing grain from local farmers, while operating at a national level. Working with the Eastern Ontario Local Grains Initiative to source local farmers has been instrumental for Spencer in making that connection at a local level.
“If we go national one of two things will happen, we’ll either grow the Smiths Falls’ operation really big, or we’ll have another production facility in Western Canada,” Spencer explained. “Either way, we want to stay and grow our business in the community, to grow with the town.”