Panera, meaning "time of bread," reflects the vision and focus of a company whose mission is putting "a loaf of bread in every arm." The bakery cafe's stock has risen nearly 700 percent during the past three years and sales are expected to hit $1 billion this year. CEO Ron Shaich, who started this company 15 years ago, hopes to keep rolling in the dough.
Ron Shaich: Bio and Career Highlights Age: 49
Education: Shaich received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University in 1976 and an MBA from Harvard in 1978.
Resume: Shaich began his career in the bakery-cafe industry in 1981, when he co-founded Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. In 1993, he led Au Bon Pain's acquisition of the Saint Louis Bread Co., later renamed Panera. Shaich ultimately sold Au Bon Pain in 1998 in order to concentrate on the Panera brand.
He also serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is a member of the board for the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
Corporate Culture Board of Directors: With the exception of Shaich, Panera's six-member board is independent.
Stock options: The company expenses its stock options.
Charity: Panera launched Operation Dough-Nation in 1992 to help feed the hungry. Cash donations are matched with fresh bread and cash that is distributed to local food pantries. Panera also delivers all unsold bread to local hunger relief agencies.
Says Shaich: "Often at the end of the night we have lots of baked goods left over. All of that goes to soup kitchens and charitable shelters around the country."
On quality ...
"We are really committed to doing bread right. We do it based on the traditions of bakers who have been baking for hundreds of years [with] stone deck ovens that cost $50,000. We use no chemicals, no preservatives," says Shaich.
No bonus for Shaich
"I used a charter jet for part of the year and I personally felt like I was more than well-compensated with my salary. I'd didn't feel like [a bonus] was something I should take."