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Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread Has Earned His RewardsBruce Lindner Special to Salem-News.com
A top choice for bread lovers in Oregon has turned into a "must have" far and wide.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - If you live in Oregon, you know this face. And even if you don't and you live out of state, you've probably heard of him or bought his product. His name is Dave Dahl, and his story is so interesting, so convoluted, I decided it was worth telling from my own perspective.
The first time I ever heard his name, was from my daughter Lisa. She kept telling me about this guy named Dave she had met when he personally delivered loaves of his amazing organic bread called "Dave's Killer Bread" to the Corvallis New Alternative Co-op.
Lisa became friends with him, and modeled his logo T-shirts for his original website (which I'm sure is long gone now). A few weeks later, this burly, truly MASSIVE guy walks up to my truck at the Beaverton Farmer's Market I serve on Saturdays, and asks, "Are you Lisa's dad? I'm Dave."
We hit it right off. Every Saturday morning I'd set him and his crew up with their caffeine needs, and they'd send me home with more bread than I could eat in a week, so I ended up dropping most of it off at Loaves & Fishes.
His bread is so healthy that when I had my first heart attack two years ago, my cardiologist recommended I eat it regularly. It's low in sodium, sugar, full of seeds, whole grain, etc. His philosophy of using exclusively natural, organic ingredients kind of inspired me for my Snappytown sauce.
Dave's Killer Bread exploded on the market, and he soon pulled out of all the farmer's markets. He was too big for them now. His breads are now sold all over the west coast, from San Diego to Vancouver Canada, into the Southwest, and (from what I hear), the mountain states.
Dave will be the first to admit that he's had a sordid past. I don't want go into detail here because that's not the point of this article, but if you want to know that story, he published it online himself. Mr. Google will lead you to it.
Suffice it to say he served some hard time, got out, and turned his life around...but not without a few setbacks along the way.
Dave's Killer Bread bakery is just down the street from my house, maybe a mile from here. His crew sometimes walks across the street to get coffee from me when I serve the adjoining business.
Dave's policy for hiring was to give guys with troubled pasts—guys like him—a second chance. So he hired guys fresh out of the pen, revolving door criminals, etc. And of the ones I've met there, his efforts pay off. Their gratitude and loyalty to him is simply over the top.
Anyway, long story short, Dave's Killer Bread has gone through some transitions over the past decade, as has Dave. He's no longer as intimately connected to the business that he (and his brother) launched at Oregon's farmer's markets 10-12 years ago, and Dave still has the occasional personal demon to wrestle with.
So when it was announced late last week that Dave's Killer Bread had been acquired by Flowers Foods of Atlanta Georgia, my first thoughts went to Dave. Since he was no longer an integral part of the company, did he get shafted on this deal, or did his entrepreneurial spirit pay off?
It turns out, it was the latter. Flowers Foods bought Dave's for $275 million, 20% of which went to Dave. He's walking away with $55 million!!
THIS is America to me. A guy who's spent a major chunk of his life behind bars, gets out, founds a business where he helps other ex-cons get on the road to legitimacy, ends up reaping the rewards of his efforts, and leaves behind 300 grateful employees—100 of whom are ex-cons—who are no doubt inspired by his story.
As for Dave, I can only imagine what he'll do next. He's resourceful and imaginative, so he won't be bored for long. I wish him only the very best!
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