When Kevin Baker enrolled in
the Electromechanical program at Southeast Community College in 1972, he was
one of only two students since it was a brand-new program. He’s proud to be part
of the introductory class.
“It changed my whole life,” he said about his
time at the Milford Campus. “I feel like I was prepared when I graduated. I
could hold my own.”
from Cedar Creek, Nebraska, Baker always had an interest in mechanical
equipment design. After he graduated from SCC in 1973, he first worked at
Brunswick Corporation in the aerospace division. When that plant closed, he
went on to work at a candy manufacturer until it closed. Since he had
experience with designing mass-production candy-making equipment, he decided to
start up his own candy company in 1987.
were small, so I decided to go and develop our own candy,” he said. “You gotta
take a gamble sometime.”
proved to be worth it. Bakers Candies is one of the most successful and
well-known candy companies in Nebraska and the Midwest. The family-owned
business is located in small-town Greenwood, Nebraska, but people come from
near and far to get their hands on the famous chocolate meltaways in the colorful
started with four employees and now has 21, Baker said, including his sons Todd
and Paul. Kevin designed the four automated production lines, which are able to
mass produce candy at a rapid rate. For example, it’s able to wrap 220 individual
candies in one minute. He said the most rewarding part of the job is knowing it’s
his family’s business.
“The idea that
you started it, and every day you get your job done and make a living for the
whole family,” he said.
oldest son, is the general manager, while Paul serves as the production
manager. Both grew up in the chocolate factory and even experienced some
important milestones there.
how to walk on the factory floor,” Paul remembered. “After school, the school
bus would drop me off here, too.”
rewarding part is working with family,” Todd said. “The reason we love what we
do is we get to work together.”
He adds that
working in a family business isn’t for everyone. Some days there are definitely
challenges. However, the key is to have boundaries.
“Each of us
has our own responsibilities with the business, and we work hard to respect
each other and those responsibilities,” he said. “We work together, but we try
not to overlap.”
back fondly on his time at SCC Milford. He even supports a scholarship at Louisville
High School for students to attend SCC.
indebted to the education he got from SCC Milford,” Todd said. “SCC put the
tools in his hands and enabled him to do all of this.”
added a new outlet store in September 2019. The Bakers now have more space to
sell the famous meltaways, as well as hundreds of other types of candies and
As for the
future, the Bakers hope to keep churning out hundreds of pounds of candy each day,
which equates to approximately half a million pounds per year. With nine grandchildren,
there’s plenty of help to be found.
last name is Baker, nobody’s safe,” Todd joked. “They’ll get recruited at some
point or another.”
For more on
SCC’s Electromechanical program, go to https://www.southeast.edu/electricalelectromechanical/