Employee Education Aids in Company’s Success

Paula Marshall-Chapman, chief executive officer of The Bama Companies, which includes Bama Foods, Bama Frozen Dough, Base, Inc. and Beijing Bama, Inc., described the "Bama Way" as "People helping people be successful" during the Oklahoma Baptist University Paul Dickinson School of Business forum, Nov. 13.

The family-based business that produces flour based, ready-to-use products, operates by a mission statement that insists on going beyond simply making a product and shipping it out to people, Marshall-Chapman said.

"We are in business to make people successful that come into contact with us," she said.

Bama maintains the life of the mission statement through an emphasis on continuing education for company employees.

The Bama Institute Training Center in Tulsa includes computer tutorial programs intended for all employees without a high school degree to earn a GED within the first few months of employment.

"We make a handshake deal with them," she said. "We tell them that if they want to stay here, they have to pass the GED within six months."

The institute also houses the Bama Certificate Program that allows employees to earn the equivalent of an associate's degree. They also encourage employees to obtain a bachelor's degree.

The tuition for all of these programs is paid for by the company.

When companies fall on hard times, she said, most cut the employee training budget. Marshall-Chapman believes that when times are tough, education is needed even more.

The Tulsa native also serves as the president of the Oklahoma Quality Foundation Board and chairman of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce.

Bama Companies have expanded under Marshall-Chapman's leadership to provide a wide variety of desserts and baked goods to fast food chains such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Braum's Ice Cream, and Darden restaurants, including Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

The food company, originally specializing in "Bama Pies," now produces more than 2.4 million biscuits daily.