Bob Hosford is a third generation Baker with family roots back to the 1890’s in Cork, Ireland, but he didn’t start out that way. Ten years ago he retired from his life’s work as a farmer and literally, sold the family farm. He saw the perfect opportunity to return to his roots in Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery in Grand Bend, Ontario, and he hasn’t looked back since. He, and his wife Ruth, took over the business at its former location just on the outskirts of Grand Bend but within two years realized that a new location and better facility was needed to do allow for future growth. With the new location on Ontario Street, came new opportunity, and Grandpa Jimmy’s became much more than a small town seasonal bakery. Officially, they are a Food Manufacturing Facility, with a North American Industrial Classification by the Canadian Food Inspection agency, with all the bells and whistles. A distinction that allows them to expand in ways they couldn’t have previously, by exporting to International markets. Despite the distinction and new location, Grandpa Jimmy’s remains true to its roots. They serve traditional Scottish and Anglo-Celtic fare to store customers. But Bob doesn’t do it all alone. Grandpa Jimmy’s is a family affair, with Bob’s wife by his side and his son, Alan, being groomed as the fourth generation Hosford baker, there is no better example of team work than the Hosford family. Their biggest selling items are the traditional meat pies, sausage rolls, fruit cakes, and of course, the shortbread.
Compliance and product safety are ultimately important to Bob, and it is evident when touring the facility. Kitchens are pristine, equipment is updated and every product they produce is made on site, preservative-free and without added chemicals. Grandpa Jimmy’s authenticity and quality have been bringing customers from all over Ontario and the US since 1989. In addition to the bakery location, Grandpa Jimmy’s product can be found at farmer’s markets in Windsor and Stratford and are also available online at www.grandpajimmys.com.
Bob tries to use locally grown raw materials as much as possible, and his customers have shown they appreciate it, purchasing more than 8000 meat pies and even more sausage rolls from him in a single season last year. If you ask him what his favourite part of being an entrepreneur is, he will tell you without hesitation, it’s the people. Grandpa Jimmy’s is a bakery, but it’s also a social hub, a meeting place, a chance to connect over hot coffee and warm conversation. Every visitor gets a Cead Mille Failte (one hundred thousand welcomes).
When asked about his experience as an entrepreneur, Bob recalls all that he has had to learn. He has become an avid learner about such things as trust, criminal and financial law; centralization of rural communities; intellectual property and other adversities facing small businesses today. He has become an expert at managing risk and identifying opportunities that relate to his strategic plan for the business. He is very thankful for those resources that do exist to support business owners and regularly recommends the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation to those serious about starting year round local businesses – something he hopes to see more of in his community. When asked if he has any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, he advises “keep the principles of your company, be fair with your customers and suppliers, and when you need to, fight for what’s right”. The best part of business ownership? “You own your time. You manage your own time. Invest your time early on, and you will get it back later”.
The journey for these third and fourth generation bakers has not been without adversity, but he credits his ability “to see opportunity and risk at all times” with his perseverance. One taste of his Grandpa Jimmy’s shortbread will erase any doubt of that.
Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery is located at 36 Ontario Street North in Grand Bend, Ontario. They can be reached by phone at (519) 238-5055 or 1-877-225-5055. You can also find them on Facebook, on their website at www.grandpajimmys.com, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.