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Germany

The baker: Reinhard Brauer from Aerzen

Bread is a staple of the German diet, and nowhere in the world boasts quite as many types of bread – just ask Reinhard Brauer, who runs a chain of bakeries in Aerzen, a small village in Lower Saxony.

Reinhard Brauer

Reinhard Brauer pays attention to every detail

At two o' clock in the morning Reinhard Brauer is usually hard at work – and if he's tired he doesn't show it. Now 60, he could operate his industrial kneading machine in his sleep, but he still brings the same attention to detail to his job as he always did.

Busy while others sleep

His work begins just after midnight. He opens up the bakery kitchen, and his first step is to mix the dough. Half an hour later he's joined by an assistant, soon followed by another, whose job is to slide trays of dough into the oven. By five o' clock the smell of fresh baking is filling the premises and Brauer and his team are rustling up some 500 loaves of bread, rolls and cakes. By 5:30 am, everything's ready to go.

Reinhard Brauer at the dough mixing machine

Mixing the dough is the first task of the day

A baker for thirty years, Reinhard Brauer is used to working 15-hour days. When he gets home at six o' clock in the evening he likes to read the paper and listen to music with his wife Renate. The couple has a soft spot for rock ‘n' roll, especially Elvis Presley.

A family business

Reinhard originally took over the business from his father, and he and Renate now owns seven bakery outlets.

“She's in charge of the actual running of the stores, from the staff to the logistics and accounts,” Brauer explains.

A stickler for tradition, he isn't overly worried that his business will be nudged aside by industrial-scale bakers and mass production.

“I provide variety and I'm more flexible,” he says. He also prides himself on his customer-care. “Thanks to the staff I have working for me in my bakeries, I can maintain a more personal relationship with my customers than industrial manufacturers whose products are sold in supermarkets,” he says confidently.

slabs of dough

Trays of dough ready to be put into the oven

But his successful business does have a price. Reinhard and Renate Brauer have never had much time for a private life. The last time they went on holiday was in 1975, when they traveled over the Balkans to Turkey for their honeymoon.

Nevertheless, Reinhard has no regrets – even though he accepts that his son is unwilling to take over the family business.

“Everyone needs to do what's right for them,” he shrugs.

He himself is happy with his lot, and he and his wife have no plans to retire just yet.

Author: Sonila Sand (jp)
Editor: Rina Goldenberg

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