The path to successful business ownership is often a long and winding road, and requires ample perseverance and help along the way. Chad Montgomery, baker and owner of 4 and 20 Bakers, can attest to that.
Based in Sylvania, GA, 4 and 20 Bakers caters weddings and events with a mobile bakery, specializing in wood-fired pizza, pasta, and specialty desserts. The innovative menu caters to special dietary needs, with offerings that include vegan, gluten-free, low carb, low sugar and insect protein such as crickets.
Chad Montgomery grew up in Upstate New York in a family of 7, the child of divorced parents who relied on food stamps. At 17 he joined the Marine Corps, and by the time he was 35 he had also worked as a wedding DJ, owned an event planning company, played college football and earned an Animal Science Degree. But in just one week in 2011, his 20-year relationship came apart, he lost his job, and his mother passed away. He didn’t know what to do next until a cousin suggested he take the opportunity to do what he loved.
What Chad loved was food; specifically, cooking and baking using sustainable, fresh, and local ingredients. “I always saw myself having a sustainable farm growing pesticide-free fruits and vegetables I would use to cook and bake with,” Chad recalls. Thus, 4 and 20 Bakers was born. He took online business classes and spent hours perfecting specialty dishes. He cooked for friends and families, got gigs as a personal chef, and delivered pizzas for a local Italian restaurant in Schenectady, NY. Before long, the restaurant was serving his desserts.
At a food show, a Corporate Chef for Hilton Hotels tasted his designer cupcakes and offered him a job on the spot. “That day changed my life forever,” said Chad. “This small-town guy with no formal training, just a passion for food was a Hilton Baker/Pastry Chef in New York.”
In 2014, he visited his aging father in Sylvania. After seeing how his father struggled to live on his own, Chad quit his dream job and moved to Georgia to be with him. He got work as a custodian at Georgia Southern University, started a sustainable farm project, and never let go of the dream of reopening his business. He stayed up late baking cupcakes and squeezing fresh lemonade to sell out of a tent at the local farmer’s markets in Statesboro, and 4 and 20 Bakers was back in business.
Montgomery volunteered to clean GSU’s business incubator, Business Innovation Group (BIG), in the hopes of getting any advice on how to grow his business. He was connected to the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, where his advisor Amanda Macdonald introduced him to SBA loan programs. The business grew quickly, and before long Chad was baking full-time, selling his baked goods out of a renovated concession trailer. Local news featured 4 and 20 Bakers as “Statesboro’s first food truck.”
SBAC and the Bank of Newington worked with Chad to put together an SBA loan package to take his business to the next level. According to Chad, “This loan changed everything!” The financing enabled him to buy a wood-fired pizza food truck, which expanded the range of the business and the food he could offer. Chad spent time back at Homestyle Pizza Caterers in Schenectady to learn the ins-and-outs of crafting true NY-style pizza on his truck.
Chad knew that to continue to expand, he would need the right business partner. So when Amanda Macdonald left BIG, Chad jumped at the chance to team up with his former advisor. She now manages the brick and mortar Sixpence Kitchen/4 and 20 Bakers, a wood-fired pizza restaurant and bakery, while Chad runs the pizza truck catering operation. His current focus is on creating an experience for wedding receptions and corporate events while continuing to use local products to create innovative foods.
Chad’s willingness to ask questions and seek help from places like SBAC was key to the success of his business ventures. He also credits his past work experiences and contacts as being crucial aspects of his success.
As a nonprofit community development financial institution, SBAC exists to help people just like Chad: a veteran, minority small business owner who had plenty of drive and determination but needed some capital to make his business dreams a reality. Visit us in Savannah to learn more about small business financing, and be sure to stop by the 4 and 20 food truck or Sixpence Kitchen for a taste of small business success.