Vendor Spotlight: Reinhard Haltermann of New World Bakery
As a kid in rural northwest Germany, Reinhard Haltermann had no idea what he wanted to be when he grew up. But his mom did. When he was 14, she signed him up for a three-year apprenticeship at a neighborhood bakery. Turns out, Reinhard had a knack for bread-making, and he’s spent the last 44 years putting that talent to work as a successful baker and businessman. Today, Reinhard’s New World Bakery makes and delivers 15,000 loaves of fresh, from-scratch bread to 31 ThunderCloud locations seven days a week, 362 days a year. Reinhard says he sources all of his ingredients locally as well– including his flour that is milled just minutes away from the bakery.
As a teenage baking apprentice, though, life was anything but a piece of cake. Reinhard was up at 3 a.m. to ride his bicycle (often in freezing weather) to the bakery in time to make the morning’s orders. He spent long days on his feet in front of the hot ovens and then slogged home to sleep for a few hours before repeating the schedule the next day. After completing his apprenticeship, he moved to the next level — a five-year journeyman’s position — and then to a one-year master baker’s degree.
Soon after, Reinhard joined the German company helping Whole Foods Market establish bakeries in its American stores. He emigrated to Houston but spent several years traveling across the United States — Dallas, San Francisco, New Orleans — setting up shops for Whole Foods. In the early ’90s he arrived in Austin to run the Whole Foods bakery that also prepared ThunderCloud’s bread. Eventually, Reinhard started his own company, New World Bakery, and took over the ThunderCloud account. He bakes ThunderCloud’s wheat, white, and gluten free breads. (His favorite sub hasn’t changed in 20 years. “I always have a mixed cut on wheat,” he says. “But the newer employees don’t know what I’m talking about because now they call it the American Classic. It’s still good, whatever its name is!”)
Even though his son Christian now runs the production operation while Reinhard oversees the business aspects, he still likes to get his hands in the dough. He loves making his famous rye, a German favorite, though he laments that Austinites don’t like it nearly as much as he does. He also makes a mean spätzle and schwarzbrot, two other German specialties.
When he takes off his apron and shuts down the ovens, Reinhard travels to his ranch in South Texas. The whole family (including a 2-year-old grandson and a granddaughter on the way) spends most weekends during hunting season at the ranch, where Reinhard, Christian and younger son Stefan hunt deer and wild pigs.
In the off-season and during the week, you can find him tending to his clownfish. (Yes, clownfish.) “I’ve had an affection for fish since I was a boy,” he says. He started breeding fish about 10 years ago and now exclusively raises clownfish. His collection of several hundred includes representatives from a variety of species. Some he sells to pet stores and others he auctions on eBay, but most swim in aquariums in the New World Bakery offices and at his house. “My wife would like me to grow out of this hobby!” he laughs.
The common denominator for Reinhard is the exquisite care that both raising fish and baking bread requires. He doesn’t plan to grow out of either passion any time soon. In fact, New World Bakery recently became organic-certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and purchased three acres of adjacent property for an expansion. “I’m pretty happy where I’m at,” he says. “I’ve been delivering fresh bread to Austin seven days a week for 25 years. That’s what I love.”