Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Antoine Cantarel, Owner and Founder of The Bread Stone Ovens Company, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Bread Stone Ovens Company is the only US distributor of Four Grand-Mere ovens handcrafted by French master craftsmen with custom design and assembly in our workshop. We’ve tried many ovens, and we believe the Four Grand-Mere ovens with a unique low dome design as well as a double door system are better and more versatile than any other oven on the market.
Our customers range from residential clients looking to add a truck brick oven to their home or outdoor kitchen to passionate pizza makers looking to start a mobile pizza oven business with one of our turkey oven trailers all the way to established commercial kitchens who want to expand their offerings to include a wood-fired oven.
Tell us about yourself
To us, cooking with a wood-fired oven means more than just food. It means quality time with our family, making food the Old World way, and having a lot of fun. Growing up in Europe, my family owned and operated a wood-fired oven for well over a century. As a matter of fact, to this day, my family still uses the original wood-fired oven build around 1815.
After searching for a wood-fired oven for my own house, I realized the choices were limited. I found that no one really offered true wood-fired brick ovens like the ones I grew up with back in France. Then I came across Four Grand-Mere - and it was exactly what I was looking for. I was so impressed with Four Grand-Mere ovens that I decided to quit my day job and import them to offer a true brick oven to food industry professionals and home gourmets everywhere.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was starting a business from scratch with a unique product. Fourteen years ago, the brick oven offered in the US was very limited, and there were only “pizza” ovens. There was no true brick oven with the versatility to cook pizza but also bake bread and much more. Finding the right product and distributing it in the US was a challenge, especially with a very niche market.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There’s a very wide array of responsibilities. Suddenly you’re the salesperson, the IT person, the marketing person, the accountant, and HR.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Surround yourself with the right people. Having the right employees and vendors that are talented and smart will help ensure success even if they are more expensive than what you planned. I lost more money by not having the right people than by spending.
- Be flexible and ready to adapt to an ever-changing market and customer needs. The initial idea was to just sell oven kits that people assemble themselves. We had to evolve to the demand that ended up being finished ovens for homes, restaurants, and food trucks.
- Keep learning regardless of what it is. You will be wearing many hats, and being able to understand accounting, marketing, import/export, sales techniques, and more will allow you to grow your business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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