Pearl Bakery’s President, Eric Lester, experienced firsthand the foundations of food service, sound business management and many of the guiding principles that would later help chart the course of the bakery during his formative years in the 1970’s in New Mexico.
Flipping burgers at the locally owned Hank’s A&W in Alamogordo was the first “real” job for Eric. During this time (as a freshman in Mr. Parson’s high school class) he was introduced to sustainable practices such as recycling aluminum cans and reusing paper grocery bags. As a senior in high school, his awareness was increased as a student in Mr. Hammond’s Environmental Ecology class where plant habitat and earth conservation was taught. While studying business at college, Eric found full-time employment as a dairy and frozen food manager with Owen’s Parkway, a grocery store in Portales.
Before leaving New Mexico in the early 1980’s, Eric received his MBA from Eastern New Mexico University and would soon move to Oregon becoming a licensed CPA working with locally owned restaurant and bakery clients.
In the mid 1990’s, he would combine efforts with an artisan bread baker and a retail manager formerly with Nature’s Fresh NW, to open Pearl Bakery in February 1997. Since that time, Eric’s contribution to the bakery as President has brought continued growth and today he remains the sole founder and co-owner alongside his wife, Mary.
Eric is fascinated by family roots and loves traveling the continent (and the Internet) conducting deep searches for genealogical histories. He cherishes free time spent with family, including his parents, three grown children, and two grandchildren.
(right) While attending a family reunion in Montana, Eric discovered that his great-grandfather, Eric Johan Erickson – an immigrant from Finland – founded the Milky-Way Dairy in Silver Bow, Montana in the late 19th century. The dairy farm also grew wheat. This advertisement from the family dairy farm during the 1940’s emphasizes the importance of buying “natural” milk and brings into full circle the sustainable practices of his great-grandfather and how they are in harmony with those practices seeded in Eric and Pearl Bakery.
(above) Another great-grandfather of Eric’s was Frank Gransbery. This advertisement from the 1890’s is the Gransbery Brothers Flour Mill in Exira, Iowa founded and operated by the family of Frank Gransbery.
Market Manager and in-house artist, bio coming soon!
Pearl Bakery’s Production Manager and native Oregonian, Jared Lester, brings a refreshing balance of enthusiasm, wit, and focus to our operations. Jared worked throughout high school at the bakery, helping out on the bread bench, with wholesale packing and at the retail counter. It was during this time that he learned the basics of bread baking from former Pearl production manager Tim Healea.
After obtaining a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University, Jared’s father, Eric Lester, persuaded him to return to the fold. Starting with viennoiserie and expanding his knowledge of breads, he became quickly immersed in the art and science of hand-craft baking. Jared brings the scientific method into the baking environment to improve efficiency while carefully broadening our product line.
Jared is proud of Pearl Bakery’s commitment to sustainable practices, as this was a primary area of his study in school. He lives out of the city with his wife and three dogs, and dreams of converting his property to a self-sufficient, “off-the-grid” home. If not at work, you can most likely find him tending to his garden or checking on his multiple bee colonies.