Joe Schwebel, the grandson of Schwebel Baking Company founders, Dora and Joseph Schwebel, was born into the Youngstown, Ohio family business.
Joe started out as the company’s restaurant and institutional sales manager in 1960 and quickly developed key relationships with restaurants, schools, and hospitals. He worked alongside his father, Irving Schwebel – president of the company from 1964 to 1981 – and earned promotions to vice president of sales in 1981 and, ultimately, president of the company in 1984.
Although a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance with a thesis in the “Methodology of Problem Solving,” Joe often said, “You don’t learn a bakery business out of a book. It’s what we call a ‘street business.’ All the action, in stores, with customers, in restaurants, that’s where you learn. So that was my real education.”
When he began working for the business in 1960, annual revenue was a little more than $2 million. Today it exceeds $150 million.
A lot has changed since Joe Schwebel’s grandparents began delivering homemade bread in wicker laundry baskets in 1906. It’s a storied history that spans four generations. “There’s an enormous pride when you make a product that carries the family name. It means that everybody in the family works harder and longer than everybody else.”
Joe Schwebel’s competitive nature and passion for the baking business could be witnessed on any given day, when you might find him where he enjoyed being most: in the stores with customers.
But Joe’s dedication didn’t end there. He had tremendous respect and was a powerful force within the baking industry. He was a former chairman and trustee of the American Institute of Baking and a trustee of the American Bakers Association (ABA). As former ABA president Paul Abenante said so well, “When Joe spoke, everybody listened.”
In 2003, Joe began a campaign against the low-carb craze; he spearheaded a collaborative effort between the ABA and the North American Millers Association in establishing the Foundation for the Advancement of Grain-Based Foods.
At the time of his death in 2012, Joe had helped his family’s baking business reach new and unimagined heights, building a legacy of his own, filled with traditions and practices that continue to sustain and enliven Schwebel Baking Company.