A family-run business is a staple in the CNMI and the challenge for each generation is to maintain the business’ success and prepare and inspire the next line to take over. Herman’s Modern Bakery has been successful in doing both and the formula is not a secret.
The Guerrero family believes that sustaining a shared identity and vision as a family is what works for them.
At 34 years old, Michael Robert Guerrero holds two hats in the business. He is currently the assistant general manager and operations manager.
“I assist my aunt (general manager Annie G. Hayes) in the day-to-day operations. A part of it is making sure that our facility is running properly and that we are able to continuously provide our products to people, especially during storms,” he said.
He goes to work every day with the thought that hard work and always doing his best will equip him for the tasks ahead.
“We also make sure that family comes first and business second, although sometimes it is not necessarily in that order, but, with that, our priorities are clear,” he added.
Growing up, Michael Robert Guerrero knew he was destined to work and help with the family business. “My father [Juan “Pan” Guerrero] ran the business as president and general manager for a number of years. There wasn’t any pressure to work here. In fact, he told me he wants me to be the best in whatever I decide to do.”
When he went to college, his first major was civil engineering. He eventually figured out that he didn’t want to do that.
He then shifted to business and became increasingly interested in the culinary arts, “so I pursued that in Kapi’olani Community College in Oahu, Hawaii. …I specifically went to culinary school because I knew I would be helping with the business eventually,” he added.
Part of the company’s plans is to modernize some of the bakery’s equipment. “We still use some of our equipment from the 1950’s, which is part of our everyday operations. Modernizing our equipment will definitely help with production efficiency,” Michael Guerrero said.
Another plan that is a company long-term goal is to open a branch in Guam.
“We opened one years ago but the shipping wasn’t cost-efficient for us so we closed shop,” Guerrero said. Second time might yet be the charm.
Michael Guerrero treats the bakery as his second home.” I grew up here. …As a baby, I was a regular in this building. …My mom always had me in her office, just as I have my own children in the same office today,” he said.
“As for the third generation of Guerreros, who are mostly in high school, we allow them to work so they will gain experience and hopefully spark an interest, like we did when we were their age,” he added.
Daryl Deleon Guerrero is the operations assistant production manager and helps in the sales and marketing side of the business. “I work with pretty much all of the staff and employees on every single department, including the bakers and mixers. I am also in charge of taking Public School System food/service orders,” he said.
“I love my job and the people I work with as this is a part of my grandparents’ legacy,” he added.
Daryl Deleon Guerrero is the son of Florencio “Bobby” Deleon Guerrero and grew up in Tacoma, in Washington State.
“The first time we came back was in 1995 , after my grandmother’s passing,” he said.
“It was quite an experience moving here and then finding out that I am a part of a family business and our family’s industry. …After school, we were taken straight to the bakery. … I remember the staff back then who were full of joy when they see us and I believe that is the result of how my grandparents, dad, and uncles ran the business as those smiles dignified everything,” he added.
Being a part of the business now, Daryl Deleon Guerrero insists that they still treat their staff and employees like family.
“This business is all about family. I tell every staff, member, and employee that we are the same—one heart one family—and whoever is in front , back, or the side of you, that is your brother and sister, no matter the age and background,” he said.
“I believe that if we can have a strong healthy working environment, everybody will love to come to work every single day,” he added
Daryl Deleon Guerrero didn’t work in the family business right away. After high school, he went back to the U.S. mainland where he worked for Verizon Wireless, where he was also a part of the IT technical support team.
“The experience made me learn so much about customer service [and] telecommunications. …It was something that I loved doing,” he said
The things he learned from his previous work he now applies at Herman’s Modern Bakery. …Michael and I still keep the old and the classic way of how the business is run but then we have ways to innovate and this is something that we have been doing,” he added.
With Herman’s Modern Bakery already built into the very fabric of CNMI civil society, Daryl Deleon Guerrero thinks it could still do more. With his experience in marketing, he believes the bakery would be helped by a taking on a more prominent role.
“When I came on board, I realized we did many solicitations, helping out and sponsoring different events and different government agencies. All this these accomplishments were hidden and I thought that the bakery has grown so much with the island that now is the time for the whole family to be involved and be out there,” he said. “We are all about giving back to the people which is biggest thing from our hearts and for the hearts of the community of Saipan.”
Part of his vision for a more prominent role is Herman Modern Bakery’s regular participation in the annual International Coastal Cleanup, which the company has been doing two years in a row now.
Herman’s Modern Bakery also fielded a float at the Liberation Day Parade “and it was a lovely experience being out there with the family to be one with the community that we support and love.”
While Michael and Daryl oversee the day-to-day operations, the other second generation of Guerreros sit on the board. This arrangement ensures Herman’s Modern Bakery’s continued existence as seen in the work that they do now—extending the values of the family to help sustain the business and the bigger community.