Business of Baking for Beginners

The Business of Baking for Beginners (BOB) will be held on October 7th at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Room N263) in as part of IBIE 2016. This one day seminar will serve as a great warm up to the International Baking Industry Exposition.

Register for both The Business of Baking and IBIE. Fee: $450; registration for RPIA includes access to the IBIE show floor for all four days of the exhibition.


8:30 – 8:45 AM Opening Remarks
8:45 – 9:15 AM Location Selection – Pros and Cons
9:15 – 9:45 AM Resources – Free or Little Cost.
9:45 – 10:00 AM Break
10:00 – 10:40 AM Chart of Accounts + Quickbooks + 3 Accounting Relationships
10:40 – 11:20 PM Marketing and Promotions – Basics
11:20 – 12:00 PM Building Out – Contractor/Protect Your $$
12:00 – 1:15 PM Lunch (on your own)
1:15 – 1:50 PM Formula Costing – Retail/Wholesale – with Examples
1:50 – 2:00 PM The Show Floor – What Not to Pass By
2:00 – 3 :00 PM Working with Social Media for Results
3:00 – 3:20 PM Break
3:20 – 3:50 PM Labor Control & Sales Planning
3:50 – 4:40 PM Opening a Store: Time Management
4:40 – 5:00 PM 4 Bakers Sharing Mistakes & Victories (Hip Pocket Knowledge)

The Business of Baking is an Industry Service produced by:

The RPIA Group was founded in 2001 by five bakers and a lot of their friends. The five met through the Retail Bakers of America National Trade Group (RBA) and as they moved through the ranks, they became friends that enjoyed working together. Looking for the next opportunity to work together, The RPIA Group was formed.

The Business of Baking is one way The RPIA Group can give something back to the industry. All of the founders were at the same place as the attendees over 30 years ago. Sharing lessons and hip pocket knowledge is part of the legacy of the baking industry.


Matthew P. D’Agostino, CMB

Matthew P. D’Agostino is a Certified Master Baker and former owner of La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppes headquartered in central NJ. His expertise in retail baking has been honed over the past 40 years in owning as many as ten stores at one time with 130 employees before selling his company two years ago.

Mr. D’Agostino held the position of General Manger, Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman during his years at the helm of La Bonbonniere. He also served the baking industry as an officer and president at the local, state and on the national level of the Retail Bakers of America. He is a founding partner of The RPIA Group and headed the first Virtual Bakery Convention held on line in 2008.

After a successful career Mr. D’Agostino now mentors with SCORE, a 50 year old nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. SCORE is a division of the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration). He now advises and consults with entrepreneurs and bakers in startups and ongoing enterprises as well as serving as Treasurer of The RPIA Group and also owns a property company.

Larry E. Merritt, CMB

Having started in 1979 with no baking experience, Larry Merritt has learned from many mistakes, but learned well. Now with three stores and a production commissary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Merritt’s Bakery is the largest retail bakery in the Greater Southwest area. Offering full-line baking with an emphasis in custom decorated cakes, Merritt’s has expanded sales more than 150 times from their first 450 sq ft store. His story is filled with principles of improvement and encouragement for bakers of all shapes and sizes.

Now an Ex-President of the Retail Baker’s Association, Larry Merritt has embodied the American dream of self-motivated success as in his Certified Master Baker certification. Larry has served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Southwest Retail Baker’s Association and in 1996-1998 served as President of the GSWRBA. Then in 1998 was elected to serve on the National Board of Directors for The Retail Baker’s of America. After a couple of years he was asked to fill a seat on the Executive committee of the RBA finally serving as the 67th President of The Retail baker’s of America. Of the many duties and responsibilities serving RBA he counts his trip to England as one of his most treasured. An invitation by the Master Bakers of the UK to attend an annual meeting in Blackpool, England where he was asked to give a speech on RBA’s bakers certification process. In attendance for the classes and at a banquet following were the Presidents of the Master Baker’s from Scotland, England, Ireland, and of course, RBA’s President, Larry Merritt. Having benefited incalculably from years of RBA & GSWRBA membership, Larry along with Rick Crawford, Matt D’Agostino, Randy McArthur, and Mark Atwood, all ex-officers of RBA, formed the beginnings of The RPIA. Motivated by years of frustration and limitations of bakers not being able to affect their very industry, these men have set out to change and to provide help in multiple areas for bakers to be heard and to effect change in the baking industry at every level. . Larry believes in passing on his hard won knowledge to new bakers just starting out. Larry shows it is possible to survive and even grow from the many problems, which we all face

Mark Atwood, CMB, CMCD, 

In 1978, he bought a small cake shop in Alexandria called Betty’s Bakery. Two year later, he purchased the building and equipment of Tasty Bakery at 1235 Texas Ave. At this location he used his baking skills to operate a full line retail bakery from 1978 until 2004. In 2004 he purchased the building and land at 1125 MacArthur Drive. This is where Atwood’s Bakery is today.

Mark has a BS from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. He has served as President for Deep South Retail Bakers Association as well as President for Retail Bakers of America during this time he traveled extensively and sharing his knowledge with other bakers both domestically and internationally. He served on the RBA Board of Directors for 18 years.

He served on the RBA Certification Committee as Chairman for 10 years. Mark is very active in his trade associations and is currently serving as Treasurer for DSRBA and he is the Master of Ceremonies for the National Pillsbury Cake Decorating Competition.

In 2006, he was named Small Retailer of the Year by the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce. Atwood’s Bakery was also honored by National Retail Bakery of the Year in 2007 by Modern Baking Magazine. Bakeries are selected by their peers to receive this prestigious award.   In 2010 was a new venture as Atwood’s Bakery was selected by The Learning Channel Network to compete in the second season of THE ULTIMATE CAKE OFF. Atwood’s was awarded with the “Best of Cake” award.

Randy McArthur

He is a second generation baker and has been involved in the business since he was a young boy. In 1976 Randall’s Dad Donald decided to pursue other interests and Randall took over operation of the business. Under his leadership McArthur’s Bakery has grown to become the largest independently owned retail bakery in St. Louis and among the top five percent in the United States. Randy is a Past President of the Retailers Baking Association and has travelled in Latin America to work with Bakers and Baking Associations.

McArthur’s Bakery currently operates 3 units and does over 750 decorated cakes and over 25 wedding cakes per week. We have a central bakery that distributes to the stores and employ over 80 people.

Randall has been involved in numerous church and trade association boards over the past thirty five years. These include ten years on the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Bakers Cooperative Association a local buying coop, Past President of the St. Louis Master Retail Bakers of St. Louis 1984-1987. Past President of the Missouri Bakers Association 1985-1986. Randy also served in the children’s ministry at Grace Church-St. Louis for eleven years. Served 8 years as a director of the Pattonville School District in St. Louis is currently serving as Chairman of the board of Joy FM St Louis’s Christian Music Radio Station and as President of the Lemay Chamber of Commerce.

Randall has been married to Rebecca McArthur since June of 1977. Together they have 2 Daughters Christina and Amanda and six grandchildren.

Rick D. Crawford, CMB

Rick Crawford has been in the Baking Industry since 1974. He has worked in the supermarket industry, Bakery Franchisee, retail baking – full line, wholesale baking (plant level) and is now the Managing Partner of The RPIA Group. Rick has a passion for Food Safety and has built and implemented HAACP Plans and is a Certified Food Defense Coordinator. He served in Baking Trade Associations in one form or another for the last 30 years.

In addition he teaches at Ivy Tech Community College. He has taught Baking Science and currently teaches Bakery Merchandising.   He is under contract to write a text book “How to Open and Operate a Retail Bakery” to be published by J. Wiley & Sons. The text is scheduled to be printed in September of 2013. More about Rick can be found on his LinkedIn page.