Cousins Mike and Larry Marcucci were born into the baking industry as members of the Gonnella and Marcucci families, who have been fixtures in Chicago baking since 1886. During their high school years, both Mike and Larry worked for the family business, Gonnella Baking Company, learning the baking industry. Following high school, Mike got his degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin and Larry got his Business Administration degree from the University of Illinois.
Following college, Mike worked as an intern on the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in Washington before joining Gonnella, while Larry joined the bakery directly from college. Soon, Mike and Larry decided to go off on their own and bought a small, nearly bankrupt bakery outside of Detroit. Within a couple of years, they proceeded to buy Kreamo Bakers in South Bend, Indiana, and a few weeks later bought the bankrupt Mary Ann Bakery in Chicago. This was the start of Alpha Baking Company. The two entrepreneurs – still in their twenties, inexperienced, and undercapitalized – had acquired three struggling bakeries within just two years. What could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything.
It was now 1980. Alpha was overleveraged, the country was mired in a deep recession, and the company’s interest rate on borrowed funds was well over 20%. Alpha’s outlook was bleak. But thanks to the patience and support of the company’s employees, customers, lenders, suppliers, along with a fair amount of luck, Alpha not only survived but finally began to succeed.
The company started to grow, mostly through strategic acquisitions. S. Rosen’s was acquired in 1981; Chicago’s National Baking Company in 1997; Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 2007. And in 2016 Alpha acquired the Bun Basket bakery in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a sweet goods bakery in Chicago. From very humble beginnings, Alpha today operates six bakeries with over 2,000 employees serving the fresh and frozen bakery segments throughout the United States.
Throughout their careers, both Mike and Larry have remained very active in the industry. Larry attended the AIB’s Baking Technology course in 1981. Both have served as Directors of the American Baker’s Association, with Mike as Chairman in 1995. Both have served as Directors of AIB, and Larry has been very active in the ASB, having served as Chairman in 2001.
Click on the images below to view .pdf files of the inductee’s biography and plaque.