Loveland’s Canyon Bakehouse helping people love bread again
By Emma Castleberry
When Christi Skow, co-founder of Canyon Bakehouse and mother of three, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, she and her husband, Josh, experienced a range of emotions.
“It was shocking and sad,” Josh says. “We were midwesterners and we liked our bread!”
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the small intestine when a person consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. This inhibits the absorption of nutrients and, if undiagnosed, can lead to other disorders like osteoporosis and infertility.
Christi had been feeling unwell for a long time, so while the celiac diagnosis was helpful, it also required a major lifestyle change. Through trial and experience, Josh and Christi made their household gluten-free, but the couple was frustrated with the lack of flavorful, nutritious bread options. So they decided to make their own.
The Skows teamed up with Ed Miknevicius, a master baker, and the team of three founded Canyon Bakehouse in late 2009. The company now makes 10 products, from brownie bites to hamburger buns. In 7 years, their mission hasn’t changed: Canyon Bakehouse wants to let people love bread again.
While the company’s core market is people with celiac, they strive to make a gluten-free product that anyone can love.
“There are people that choose to eat gluten-free that don’t have to, for many reasons,” Josh says. “We’re exiting an age of fad diets and entering an age of health and wellness and people are cognisant. We use all-natural ingredients, non -GMO, and one hundred percent whole wheat.”
Additionally, Canyon Bakehouse caters to people whose might struggle with other allergens besides gluten.
“Sometimes folks who have allergies aren’t just allergic to one thing,” Josh says. “The bottom line is to make the product more accessible to more people. Anything that we don’t feel like we have to put in there, that’s going to make a difference, we don’t put in.”
Canyon Bakehouse goods are now sold in nearly 7,500 stores in the US and Canada and the growth shows no signs of slowing down.
“We went from being a regional company to selling our product nationally, but there are still so many more stores to get into,” Josh says.
With production growth comes team growth. Canyon Bakehouse started with just a handful of dedicated people and has grown to over 130 full-time positions.
“Good businesses are a product of their people. We believe that,” Josh says.
That belief is why the company has a culture of appreciating their employees. With starting wages at $13-15 per hour, paid time off for all positions, and medical benefits, Canyon Bakehouse takes care of their employees.
“As you become profitable and successful, it allows you to do more,” Josh says. “One of our goals is to be a best place to work in Colorado.”
Expansion can sometimes mean a reduction in quality, especially for a food company, but that’s not an option for the Canyon Bakehouse founders.
“Growth can bury a company and we understand that, so we’re very conscientious about what needs to happen to be successful as we grow,” Josh says.
No matter how many new stores sell their brand, or how many new team members join them, the Canyon Bakehouse team will always have roots in Colorado. The company’s logo – a river coming out of a canyon at sunset – embodies that. But the Skows appreciate more than just the natural beauty of Loveland. They appreciate a culture that allows their family to eat healthy with ease.
“When we moved here, it was kind of freeing for Christi,” Josh says. “When you go to a restaurant, people understand. We love being a Colorado company and love being a company from Loveland.”
Published in the October issue of Loveland Magazine.