OAKLAND, Calif. - Sugar, flour and second chances. An East Bay bakery is getting nationwide attention--not just for its delicious desserts, but for the people it employs.
If all you know about Rubicon Bakers is that their treats are tasty, owner Andrew Stoloff is okay with that.
Every cookie made in a Richmond facility and they all come with the same secret ingredient-- the people making them.
Rubicon Bakers is a place of second chances.
Fred Earl has been with the bakery since Rubicon started in 1993. From the beginning, Rubicon's mission was to hire people others would not--people with criminal records or substance abuse issues like Fred faced.
"I was kind of using drugs back in the old days," said Earl. "I used to go to sleep with a bible on my chest, prayed every day to make a change, and he listened."
Rubicon gave Earl a fresh start. Trouble was, the bakery needed one too.
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When Andrew Stoloff first saw Rubicon seven years ago, the non-profit was in serious financial trouble.
"I fell in love with the way the bakery had touched people's lives. And really against the advice of family and friends, I decided to buy the business myself," said Stoloff.
Stoloff turned Rubicon into a for-profit business. Sales have gone up 18 fold and the staff has grown from 14 to 150.
David Ammons is one of the newest hires. "This is the first time in my lifetime that I've had a second chance," said Ammons.
After ten years in prison, Ammons sent out 100 resumes and Rubicon was his only job offer.
About a third of the employees here share similar, challenging backgrounds.
"We have very low attrition for our business. People stick around. I try to tell other potential employers, this makes business sense," said Stoloff.
Hiring ex-cons, people who have been homeless or struggling with addiction may seem risky but for this bakery owner, it's quite the opposite. Stoloff believes the human touch makes a delicious difference.
Stoloff also offers no interest loans to his employees so they can fix a car, or pay a bill without having it ruin their lives. That is just another reason why Andrew Stoloff is one of our ABC7 Stars.
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