Supplier CEO talks about seizing opportunity – and paying it forward
February 19, 2021
Trina Bediako is the first to say she’s impatient.
Nearly 20 years ago, when her father, Tim Brown, asked her if she’d like to work for the company he led, McDonald’s supplier New Horizons Baking, she couldn’t wait to get started and imagined jumping into a leadership position.
But Tim Brown had other ideas.
He’d started out in the baking industry delivering Wonder Bread in 1965 and worked his way up, moving the family around the country almost every year of Trina’s childhood. Tim had retired as VP of sales for Wonder Bread’s parent company when in 1995 he had the opportunity to take the helm at New Horizons and ultimately 100% ownership.
Now it was Trina’s turn to learn the ropes.
I inherited my impatience from my father, yet he was wise enough to slow me down,” Trina says.
She spent the next 16 years learning the business – everything from managing HR to finance, marketing and owning the McDonald’s customer relationship—before taking on the role of president, and later CEO.
“My father said, ‘You know what? You’re ready now,’” Trina recalls – and she agreed.
Since Trina joined New Horizons, it’s grown from 185 to 425 employees as New Horizons Acquisition, a parent company of several businesses headquartered in Norwalk, Ohio. A McDonald’s supplier of buns since 1967, New Horizons had one bun production line when Tim Brown started, and now has two high-speed lines for core bun production, six production lines for English muffins, with another on the way, and its own transportation company.
As CEO, Trina has led the company through record-breaking growth and earnings. Today the company produces 1 million dozen products weekly and, via 12 distribution centers, serves 5,500 McDonald’s restaurants.
Trina says she learned the business fundamentals from her father.
“It’s about the people – the people who work for you and the people who are your customers. If you take care of the people, you’ve got a good position for success.”
She observed how he listened to his employees and took care of them – professionally, by giving them what they needed to do better and be more efficient, and on a personal level, too.
It’s about the people – the people who work for you and the people who are your customers. If you take care of the people, you’ve got a good position for success.”
“Every day, he’d come in, take his coat off and walk through the office and say ‘hello,’ ‘good morning’ to every person, and I do it as well,” Trina says. “It means a lot to people. When people know you care, that you respect what they bring to the table, they’ll give you a lot.”
Another fundamental: creating opportunities for employees, just as she enjoyed, Trina says, acknowledging it’s not typical to see a female, Black CEO in a male-dominated industry .
“I’m grateful my father was willing to give me a chance, and I’m absolutely willing to give the best qualified a chance,” she says.
“I see it as our responsibility as leaders, as female leaders, and even as minority-owned business owners, to reach down and pull people up…I see an obligation to help.”