“I’ll be baking 192 loaves in the next six days.”
Throughout south-eastern Michigan, Jeff Becker is known for his delicious Amish Friendship Bread. As an Area Sales Manager (ASM) for America’s Preferred Home Warranty (APHW), Jeff brings it with him wherever he goes. Agents love him for it, agencies and brokerages have come to expect it, and even his work associates constantly ask for it. “People seem to really appreciate it,” he said with a smile, “and enjoy it.”
The cinnamon-sugar confection may bring out the ‘best’ in people, but making it is no easy task. “It’s a 4-hour process from start to finish,” Jeff said. “I make 32 loaves each time, on 5 out of every 10 days on average—and I get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to do it.”
So why does he do it so often? The 4-hour baking process is just the tip of the iceberg. Each batch has to go through a 10-day fermentation process as well. Rather than doing one batch every 10 days, Jeff keeps bags of dough at different stages in the process. At any given time, he has three roasting pans with anywhere from 18 to 24 bags of dough, which he frequently has to tend to. It’s a crazy process, to be sure.
“Insane is a good word,” Jeff said with a chuckle. “It’s driven from my gratefulness, that’s what it really is.” Gratefulness for his success as an ASM, and for the professional relationships he’s built over the years. “Whether they do business with me or not, I take the bread with me every time, just as a way to say, ‘Thank you for your time.’”
In the near future, Jeff will be giving up his position as an ASM to become a National Field Sales Trainer for other ASMs at APHW. “I’m going to miss sales, but I’m also looking forward to the change, and anticipating my new role,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to grow.” Jeff is also very grateful for the team behind his growth, from management to admin to claims representatives to marketing. “Having such a great team behind me has truly been the secret to my success,” he said, adding that his wife has been a big part of that, too. “These people have helped me in ways I can’t even begin to explain.”
John Rockey, one of Jeff’s real estate agents, has been a fan of his Friendship Bread for years. “It’s an unexpected extra,” John said, “and everybody always clamors over it.” John is sorry to see Jeff go, but knows the change is a great opportunity for him. “It’s our loss, the company’s gain,” John said. “I’m thrilled for him, and I wish him only the best. If people listen to what he says and take it to heart, America’s Preferred Home Warranty will grow as a result, without a doubt.”
Jeff will likely still be making his bread, just not quite as often as he does now. It still makes an excellent gift, but the thanks it offers are what mean the most to Jeff.
“I should change the bread labels to say grateful instead of thankful,” he said. “Feeling thankful is a passive emotion. Being grateful is an action—it’s doing something to show how you feel.” And he is grateful for every single day.