(Photo | By Gallivan Photography in Bend)
Carol Healy wanted a healthy snack to give her four children along with the customers who visited the Expressway Market in Bend, which she and her husband, Tom, have owned for more than 25 years. “During much of that time, I made the desserts for the store,” Carol said. “Our no-bake cookies were by far the customer favorite. Having products that did not contain preservatives or artificial ingredients was really important to me, especially in the convenience stores.”
Carol’s no-bake cookies were sought after by customers who would stop by the store to see what no-bake cookies she had made that day. The positive feedback she received about her homemade no-bake cookies inspired her to start The No-Bake Cookie Co., in 2012.
Handcrafted in Bend, The No-Bake Cookie Co. specializes in artisan no-bake cookies using premium ingredients. The cookies are non-GMO and gluten-free. The recipes were inspired by Carol’s nostalgia for the simplicity of 1950’s desserts and with updating the recipes with healthier ingredients. The no-bake cookie flavors include chocolate, peanut butter, coconut macadamia and café mocha.
Carol and Tom have lived in Bend their entire lives, with Tom’s father, Bill Healy, being the founder of Mt. Bachelor Ski area. They and their four children all graduated from Bend High School. Their sons, Eric and Daniel, joined the company several years ago and are responsible for building the business to where it is today.
The Healys recently brought in investors and new management to operate their company. “We recently stepped down from our daily responsibilities at The No-Bake Cookie Co., so we can focus on grandchildren and property development projects. We remain the majority owners,” Carol said.
Manufacturing in Bend has several unique challenges, Carol said, especially when distributing products outside of Central Oregon. “Not only are we not connected to a major interstate but getting supplies in and products out in the winter months have been exceptionally challenging when roads are covered in snow. Shipping charges are also much higher when distributing out of the area,” she explained.
Carol also shared that a large majority of food products are produced by co-packers, which is a much simpler way to own a food company. “Our unique cookies, however, were not something that could easily be replicated by a co-packer, so out of necessity we manufacture our own products,” Carol said. “The pros to manufacturing in-house is it allows us to control the quality of our products and ensure that we are always able to fulfill our orders by not having to rely on a co-packer who could impose production limits.”
For the first ten years, the no-bake cookies were manufactured in a leased industrial space in Bend. As the company grew, they were able to expand into additional units. “As Bend grew, so did the price of industrial space,” Carol said. “We reached a point a few years ago that not only had we outgrown all the available space in our complex, but the rent had skyrocketed so much that building our own manufacturing plant was inevitable.” In August, The No-Bake Cookie Co. moved into a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Northeast Bend, owned by the Healys.
The No-Bake Cookie Co. distributes its products to more than 20,0000 locations by about 20 national and regional distributors. The cookies are sold in grocery and convenience stores as well as military and food service locations. “Our cookies are the number one selling natural cookie in the convenience channel according to SPINS Data for the last two years,” Carol said. “Currently, we produce around 60,000 cookies a day.”
Carol said her company faces the same challenge as many other manufacturing companies in Bend. “When we started our company ten years ago, finding production workers in Bend was not a problem, however hiring management positions with experience in food manufacturing was challenging. Of course, today hiring employees in Bend is very challenging,” she said.
Running a company in Bend that manufactures and distributes products nationally has proven to be very challenging, Carol added. “With perseverance, we have overcome most of the challenges,” she said.