HUNTINGTON - Earl Heiner Jr. said some of his saddest days were when he had conversations with his father about raising the price of Heiner's bread.
"When it came time to have a price increase of $1, (it) was the saddest day I remember dad and I talking about," Heiner said. "When we first started out, bread was 5 cents. That's a big change."
It seems as if the price increase had little to no effect on the business, however, as a sign was unveiled naming the street beside the bakery Heiner's Way on Wednesday during its 110-year anniversary celebration and cookout at 1300 Adams Ave. in Huntington.
"It's been a wonderful life for us," Heiner said. "I'm almost 80 years old, and I've worked here since I was 13 or 14 and I've seen a lot. I've seen this building that was originally here increase 18 different times. That was quite a thrill to see that."
Heiner said he is grateful not only for his grandparents, who started the business in 1905, and his parents for keeping it going upon his grandfather's retirement, but also his suppliers, customers and employees.
"We have been blessed to have the finest employees in the United States, and I mean that," Heiner said. "I've been around a lot of bakeries and a lot of employees, and we have the best employees and supervision you could ever ask for."
Mayor Steve Williams said Heiner's is the type of company that embodies the spirit of Huntington.
"Heiner's Bakery is emblematic of all that is good in the city of Huntington," he said. "One thing I learned in my early days after moving to Huntington when I got to know the Agee and Heiner families is they take their bread seriously. This anniversary is an indication of Huntington, where a family comes together, becomes an extended family and provides employment to thousands of individuals throughout this area. Huntington is better and became the Jewel City in large measure because of the faith and the love of this family."
Williams then read a proclamation declaring Aug. 12, 2015, Heiner's Bakery Day in Huntington.
Walter Harder, director of sales at Heiner's Bakery, thanked everyone in attendance, especially its employees.
"I think as we reflect back 110 years when Charles and Kate Heiner baked their first loaf of bread, they must have had a great vision for what their business might become," he said. "But I can't imagine that vision included having a large bakery that encompassed a city block."
Heiner's, Harder said, is primarily sold in central and eastern Kentucky, western Virginia, southern Ohio and all of West Virginia. Heiner's also packages products under the Sara Lee and Ballpark brands, which expands their distribution to eastern Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
"We continue to see great opportunities for growth of the products produced in Huntington, West Virginia, at this location," Harder said. "We honestly look forward to celebrating many more milestones in the future."
The secret to the bakery's success, Heiner said, is not much of a secret.
"Dad taught us the right thing to do," he said. "And that is bake the best bread you can bake."
Follow reporter Brandon Roberts on Twitter @brobertsHD.