That takes the cake!
A 75-year-old Long Island frosting company is keeping up with the times by using telehealth-style visits to whip up faster diagnostics for commercial bakers who run into issues.
Executives at Hicksville-based Hanan Products Inc. came up with the idea of using Zoom sessions for bakers with topping problems about five months ago in an efficiency move.
"We've been trying to stay in front of things," said chief financial officer Paul Hanan, who described the new program as in the "beta stage."
Hanan said his brother, chief operating officer Ryan Hanan, recognized that by making online visits the frosting detectives could speed up the "totally inefficient" process of traveling to customer sites.
For example, in the past, the company's lone technician in Puerto Rico had to travel all over the island. Now, the customer "can log on and get their problem solved that day," Paul Hanan said.
Generally, rare issues like cracks in the icing are "pretty easy to solve" and often can be traced to factors such as handling, storage or whipping duration, he said. "Usually the customer doesn't realize that the root cause of their issue is that they are simply whipping it too long."
The 25-person company sells to bakeries, restaurants, supermarkets and distributors in the United States, Central America and the Middle East.
Demand for the company's bakery goods is particularly strong in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and regions of the United States with higher populations of Hispanics, Paul Hanan said.
Many neighborhood bakeries on Long Island buy Hanan products through Deer Park distributor Inter-County Bakery Supply.
Products include dairy and nondairy whipped toppings, pre-whipped and ready-to-whip icings, Bavarian creams and fillings and nondairy soft-serve ice cream.
Year-over-year revenue has been growing by about 5% in recent years, though 2020 was stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company.
The family business was founded in Brooklyn by Stuart Hanan a research chemist who developed Tasty Whip whipped topping and traveled the city subway to deliver it to customers.
The company, now owned by chief executive Frank Hanan, son of the founder and father of Paul and Ryan, moved to its current Hicksville location in 1960.
The company — which has giant freezers of about 42,000 and 22,000 cubic feet and a refrigerator of about 20,000 cubic feet — estimates that in the past decade Hanan products have topped or filled more than 16 million cakes a year.
In addition to virtual visits by technicians, the company is working to evolve its processes, products and certifications, said Paul Hanan.
For instance, the company has begun using data analytics to forecast business trends and is seeking certifications for its vegan products to appeal to that consumer trend.