Stewart Systems is a manufacturer of high-volume bread and bun baking equipment. The company manufactures industry-leading equipment for customers who supply some of the biggest and busiest grocery stores and fast food restaurants – end users that require the capacity to produce large quantities. The company’s machines can make over 150 loaves of bread or 1000 buns per minute…
Stewart Systems is recognized in the industry as a trusted supplier of machines that represent the leading edge of baking technology. It stands behind every product it sells by offering support services throughout the lifecycle and even longer as customers expand through upgrades and the integration of new equipment.
The company was founded in 1947 by Chick Stewart as an engineering operation that built gantry cranes for the oil industry. Over the years, the company sharpened its expertise as a manufacturer and, in the early sixties, began its foray into building baking equipment. The first item was known as a monoflex cooler and was a conveyor designed to hang from the ceiling to cool bread. This was the beginning of a journey that would carry the company through much success in the coming years.
It continued to expand into the baking industry, and in the 1980s, it acquired a baking equipment manufacturing company in Pennsylvania. From then on, the company grew, bringing a number of other companies under the Stewart Systems umbrella.
Today, the company offers a full range of front to back bakery solutions and has grown into a multi-facility operation employing 140 people. In 2013, the company became one among four brands that make up the Middleby Bakery Group along with Auto-Bake Serpentine, Baker Thermal Solutions and Spooner Vicars. In 2017, Burford and the Sveba Dahlen Group were added to the Middleby Bakery Group.
Having begun its journey as an engineering company, Stewart has kept a focus on the engineering aspect of its business. Nearly everything the company makes is custom engineered both for the space where it is to be installed and to meet each client’s specific needs. The company has applied its expertise toward many clever innovations that make Stewart equipment capable of reliably producing a high-quality product at an accelerated pace. The result is increased efficiency for bread and bun bakers and a more profitable business.
In the 1980s, conveyorized solutions for baking hamburger buns became a trend in the industry. Stewart Systems developed these machines and today is well known for its continuous baking equipment designs. This equipment can enable a baker to put out a high volume at high speed with no sacrifice to quality.
There are several factors that make the company’s conveyorized system so effective. It uses a patented magnetized pan grid to simplify the task of managing a large number of pans quickly. Temperature control is designed to be accurate within very tight tolerances using precision burners and technological exhaust systems. Finally, an advanced convection system is used to keep the baking uniform across all pans, eliminating waste and producing consistent outcomes.
Proofing is the final rising process that dough goes through before baking, and Stewart builds gigantic conveyorized machines for high-volume proofing. One of the most critical requirements for proofing is a consistency in the temperature and humidity of the environment. Stewart’s proofing system uses downdraft air conditioning and a real-time monitoring system that can read and correct humidity and temperature levels within very close limits of around plus or minus one percent. The system is designed to be highly robust and is built from stainless steel and heavy aluminum, with measures in place to prevent corrosion. It is reliable and can be built to process capacities from 1500 to 25,000 pounds per hour.
As a company with its roots in engineering, the company is committed to using the skill of its engineering team to push the technology as far as possible. Collectively, there are four hundred years of experience across the Middleby Bakery Group.
Stewart operates in a highly competitive market where many businesses use low-cost foreign labor markets to manufacture equipment. The company’s reputation for quality workmanship and well-built machines enables it to compete with companies that can cut costs by cutting corners.
Quality, of course, is fundamental to the company’s success. The company strives to provide the best quality product at the lowest total cost of ownership, and having close control over the process is tantamount to that goal. Across the lifecycle of a Stewart machine, the operator will be markedly more productive and spend far less to keep it running. This is the foundation of what makes Stewart stand out.
The company is built on life-long partnerships with its customers. Many of the businesses in its customer base are giant global companies that will call on Stewart every few years to carry out a massive multi-million dollar project. For example, a majority of the burger buns used in McDonalds’ fast food restaurants are baked using Stewart equipment. The partnerships with these multinational corporations is a testament to the quality and care that the company puts into every project.
The culture of creativity and innovation at Stewart has resulted in a line of machines with unparalleled production value, at the lowest life-time cost available in the market, but Stewart’s commitment goes much further. Long after the sale is complete, Stewart is committed to the customer through a wide variety of after-sale services. Stewart engineers can help an operator with troubleshooting and repairs, far beyond standard maintenance. The company also offers full inspections, training for employees on operating procedures, preventative maintenance, long-term monitoring, and it will even help with a relocation. When Stewart Systems sells a machine it ensures its reliability throughout its entire lifecycle.
The company also does upgrading and modernization to improve the equipment as newer and better electrical or mechanical features become available. “There’s a lot that happens after the sale,” says Stewart Systems Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Scouten. “Anyone can do a rebuild; we want to make it better than it was before. We can modernize a machine that’s twenty years old and get another fifteen years of life out of it.”
Encouraging a culture of creativity within the company is the key to its success as an innovator. In April of this year, the company made a significant investment into building an onsite Bakery Innovation Center (BIC), which houses equipment from all of the Middleby Bakery Group’s brands. This new component will allow a customer to actually test the baking equipment. The challenge that comes with new technology is that the company is often pitching a product that has never been seen. This innovation center allows customers to get a full picture of what Stewart Systems can offer, before buying.
From the very beginning, Stewart Systems has stood on a strong foundation of engineering talent and a drive to move the leading edge forward. The company’s entire line of equipment is a reflection of its innovative spirit and the care it takes to retain the trust and the confidence of its very loyal customers. As a long-term partner to many giants of the industry, the company’s reputation precedes it into many new partnerships.