Business of Baking for Beginners

The Business of Baking for Beginners, better known as “BOB,” will be held on October 5 in conjunction with the 2013 International Baking Industry Exposition.  The all-day program is designed for people with 5 years or less in the bakery business or those looking to join the baking industry.  Brought to you by The RPIA Group®, the BOB is a full day of exposure with experts in the field.  Not only will they share secrets and tricks of the trade; but you’ll also have the opportunity to ask Certified Master Bakers your questions.  Five guys and over 200 years of experience just waiting for you to share their knowledge and experience.

Saturday Evening, after the workshop, participants are invited to a Cocktail reception open only to BOB Attendees and members of The RPIA Group®.  This provides plenty of one-on-one time to ask follow-up questions and address your “burning issues” in a casual environment. The location will be announced at the meeting. Last year we had over 500 years of experience in the room.

To register for the workshop, click here. When you begin your registration, select the Business of Baking for Beginners option.  Everyone registered for “BOB” will also receive a badge to enter the IBIE 2013 tradeshow floor. For more information about the RPIA Group, visit

Fee: $400 (Includes $45 textbook ,“How To Open and Operate a Retail Bakery”)


Time Description
8:30AM – 8:45AM Opening Remarks
8:45AM – 9:30AM Your Hand-Out Textbook “How to Open and Operate a Retail Bakery”
9:30AM – 10:00AM Opening a Store – A Guide and a Checklist (from text)
10:00AM – 10:15AM Break
10:15AM – 10:50AM Chart of Accounts & Industry Matrix Guides
10:50AM – 11:10AM Marketing and Promotions – Basics
11:10AM – 12:00PM Location & Building
12:00PM – 1:15PM Lunch (on your own)
1:15PM – 2:00PM Math in the Bakery– Aaron Clanton, AIB
2:00PM – 2:20PM The Show Floor – What not to pass by.
2:20PM – 2:40PM 7 Things You Should Change in a Service Contract
2:40PM – 3:30PM Advanced Social Marketing –– Geo Fencing – Dynamic Pricing in the Bakery
3:30PM – 3:45PM Break – Turn In Your Questions
3:45PM – 4:05PM Gluten Free and the Retail Bakery, Jerry Norris, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
4:05PM – 5:00PM Questions Answered – 4 Bakers and Many Decades of Experience
5:00PM – 5:10PM Thank you, Evaluations, and Events not to miss at IBIE

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.


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.

G. 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.