Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Terry Rake, owner of Titus Bakery and Deli, located in Lebanon, IN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Products made the old fashion way! Originating in the 1950s, Lebanon, Indiana business, Titus Bakery, and Deli is a third-generation, family-owned business that has earned a reputation for providing some of the finest donuts and pastries in the State. The recipes and processes developed over this time provide today’s customers with not only consistent quality but a tantalizingly wide selection of tasty treats. Having operated at its current location in Lebanon since 1980, my father, Bill Titus, sought to retire in 2012 and enlisted my help in finding a buyer. However, before long, it became apparent to me that this would be an opportunity for me to grow the business and keep it in the family. Aside from expanding hours and visibility, a key element in her strategy was to extend the range of products offered to include cakes, pies, cookies, and a host of new baked items. With this in mind, I changed the name from Titus Pastries to Titus Bakery when acquired in 2012.
Along these same lines, the delicatessen was added in 2014. Featuring Boar’s Head brand meat and cheeses, the deli currently offers four signature sandwiches made with our homemade hoagie buns, as well as box lunches and various condiments. This segment of the business has enjoyed steady growth as more and more customers become aware of the quality and quantity provided at a reasonable price. In addition, we brought on our own brand of coffee, also used in various specialty drinks, and our own line of popcorn. Given our longstanding reputation, we have always been blessed with customers from a wide range of surrounding communities who have encouraged us to open new locations. Hamilton County, and Westfield in particular, struck us as a growing area with excellent potential and the best place to expand first. Proximity to Grand Park was certainly a consideration, but the support from local residents has been what is most gratifying. We have been welcomed whole-heartedly and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know repeat customers and the community in general.
Most recently, a pop-up location was established inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day and inside a John Deere dealership called Reynolds Farm Equipment.
Tell us about yourself
I worked with my father when he first bought the bakery in 1981 for about a year. I left the company at that point did other types of jobs, including owning an association management company prior to purchasing the bakery from my father in 2012. I have always followed my passions in life. I have that "getter done" mentally. Hard work is everything!! Also, making a quality product is a must and doing the right things in life is extremely important.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The hard work has paid off in other ways too, as we have enjoyed a succession of awards and forms of recognition along the way. Titus Bakery has been featured in many local and national publications, including Readers Digest and Bake Magazine. We have been spotlighted on various local TV programs, including Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, Fox 59's Where is Sherman, Your Hometown Friday, as well as CBS4 with Nicole Pence. The bakery was also featured on The Baking Channel's Discovering America's Bakeries series. Titus Bakery was also honored as one of the 2015 Indiana Companies to Watch, an award program presented by the State of Indiana and the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and endorsed by the Edward Lowe Foundation.
In the subsequent year, we were recognized as an Indiana Spotlight award winner by the same group. Voted Best Bakery on Indy A-List in 2014, we have been continuously ranked in the top 3 for best donuts and best bakery with Indiana A-List voters. In 2016, Titus also won 1st prize in WIBC's National Donut Day contest with our delicious Maple Bacon Long John donut. Terry was selected this past February 2017 as a Zonta Club Rose Day Award Winner of Lebanon for her outstanding service to the community.
In September 2017, Titus was awarded the Best Donut Award at the Indy Donut Festival held in Broad Ripple and the Best Donut Award by the Fishers Tri Kappa Donut Fest. Lastly, Titus was honored to receive the Lantern Award – Business of the Year by the Westfield Chamber of Commerce. In this vein, we have always sought to give back by donating to a host of non-profits and deserving causes as appreciation for the support we've always received.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In this current climate, staffing is an issue. Some supply issues, but nothing like the shortage in finding new employees for an expanding business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Give it your all. Be prepared to risk everything you own to follow your dream.
- Prepare. Do your research. Understand every aspect of the business you want to develop.
- Strive for excellence.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Plan to work hard and believe in what you are doing.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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