Get-together at Panera: It’s more than just about the ‘bread’

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The employees at the Panera Bread location in Hanover, Mass., see a lot of brothers Bob and Paul Sullivan. They meet there at least once a week for breakfast to exchange notes and talk business.

“Sometimes twice when things are hot, when we’ve got a lot going on,” says Bob. “Maybe three times!”

On this day, they are talking about the company’s Leadership Development Program. Bob, the president of Sullivan Tire Co. Inc., says seeing an entry-level employee work his or her way up to a leadership role is more than satisfying.

“That is one of the reasons I think Sullivan Tire’s going to be unbelievable down the road, because we’re developing this leadership.

“In some years, our best performers weren’t nominated (for the program) because they had introverted-type personalities. They didn’t want to be leaders. Then they were nominated, and they turned out to be some of the best people we’ve developed.”

Paul, vice president of marketing, agrees with his older brother.

“One of the things that the program does is give recognition, probably the most important attribute you can give a person as an employer,” he says. “Our leadership program recognizes the people. Just as Bobby said, sometimes they are introverted, and all of a sudden they step out, take a little bit of a risk themselves, take a challenge. They meet it head on, and go on to lead other people.

“So I think that’s another way of recognizing people. It’s a benefit.”

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