Grimmett Celebrates 67th Anniversary
with Collin Street Bakery
When things kick off in Navarro County, Texas, and its county seat of Corsicana, they tend to exhibit remarkable persistence.
In 1894, the first oil well was drilled in the Lone Star State. Presently, Corsicana proudly hosts the oldest continuously operating oil and gas field in the entire state. On August 17, a gathering of over 60 current and retired Collin Street Bakery (founded in 1896) employees, came together to commemorate Jerry Grimmett's remarkable 67-year tenure with the company. "I believe this makes him the longest-serving employee and executive in Texas at a single company," affirmed Bill McNutt, the brother of the current Bakery President, Bob McNutt. He continued, "He was born in 1934 and still works daily.”
Mr. Grimmett, a Navarro College alumnus, commenced his journey at Collin Street Bakery in 1956. He started working at a time when Elvis had his first hit, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, and the epic movie "The Ten Commandments" made its debut. In today's America, the average tenure for an executive with a company is just 4.9 years.
Mr. Grimmett's incredible story of loyalty and longevity is inextricably linked with the man who hired him back in the mid-20th century, Mr. Maurice Pollock, the previous record holder at Collin Street Bakery with 66 years of service. Mr. Pollock passed away in October 2007.
"I went to work at the Bakery in August of 1956 for $1.05 per hour, which was a nickel over the minimum wage,” calls up Jerry Grimmett. “Maurice Pollock was so great to me for so many years. He was the definition of legacy, given that his father Harry Pollock had worked at the Bakery for 53 years and drove a horse-drawn bread delivery wagon back in the day."
Aleene Pollock, Maurice Pollock's widow, remarked, "Maurice would have been proud that the young man he hired, and raised up in the business, was the one who broke his Bakery record of working 66 years.”
Norman E. Shaw, Bakery’s Vice President for 30 years, recalls Jerry Grimmett's role in Collin Street Bakery in the mid-1960s. He managed the print shop, and order processing, and was responsible for various aspects of the business, including warehousing, shipping, and ensuring cake baking was in line with demand.
Just like today, in those days, most cakes were custom-baked upon receiving an order to maintain their freshness. In the mid-1990s, Collin Street Bakery reached its peak, selling and baking over 4 million pounds of fruitcakes, and shipping them to customers in more than 190 countries.
When asked about the secrets of managing people over six decades, Mr. Grimmett stated, "Trust the people who are doing the job. Give them the credit and never criticize them for honest mistakes when they are trying to get the job accomplished."
Marcia Longo, Bakery’s Purchasing Director with over 25 years of experience said, “Jerry was always able to get his point across without being rude or raising his voice. He made you want to listen to him.”
Linda Michel, a current Bakery Associate, said, "I started in 1992 and Jerry always lead by example. He was everywhere all the time. "
Downtown Corsicana is famous for its historical bronze statues, honoring local heroes and renowned companies. In 2016, Bill McNutt’s son Thomas represents the fourth generation of the McNutt family working at the Bakery, commissioned a J. Payne Laura statue portraying "the Collin Street Baker."
This imposing bronze statue features a man donning a tall chef's hat and apron. He stands atop the iconic red bakery Christmas fruitcake tin, extending his right hand to offer a passerby a five-pound Deluxe Fruitcake. At the time, much speculation swirled about who would be chosen to represent the baker.
Jerry stated, "Bill could have picked his father, Maurice Pollock, or even himself to depict the baker, but I am sure glad he picked me!"
Bill McNutt revealed that he got inspiration from parishioner Ross Perot from the Highland Park Presbyterian Church to pick long-serving executive “Jerry”
The Bakery is no stranger to employees with extensive tenures. A plaque at the base of the Baker Bronze Statue in downtown Corsicana lists the names of 22 "Bakery Heroes" who dedicated 30 years or more to the institution. Together, these individuals amass over 595 years of service to the fruitcake aficionados worldwide.
A wise man once said, "You can pretend to care, but you can't pretend to be there." The celebration of Jerry Grimmett's 67 years of dedication at the Corsicana Country Club, stands as a testament to small towns all across America and the enduring family businesses, farms, and ranches that persevere into the 4th and 5th generations.