Baking & Snack - May 2018 - 35
Miller Baking Co.
As Miller Baking Co. grows its Pretzilla
brand of soft pretzel buns, twists and bites, it
cultivates a culture dedicated to its customers.
by Charlotte Atchley
Since 1923, a Miller Baking Co. has always been in Milwaukee and owned by
a member of a Miller family - just not the same one. In 1970, Brian Miller's
father, Richard, bought the small retail bakery known as Miller Baking Co. and
shaped it into a wholesale baking business. The bakery sold bread, rolls, muffins,
cookies and donuts to hotels, restaurants, caterers and grocery stores throughout Milwaukee. With zero baking background, Richard Miller built his business
on a commitment to quality and service. When he decided to retire in 1997, he
sold the bakery to his son, Brian Miller.
"I think my dad went into it with a head full of steam, and ignorance is bliss,"
Brian Miller, president, said of his late father's decision to buy a bakery. "Most
people who got into baking, especially then, had a family component, and there
was none for him. My dad just had the opportunity to buy a small retail bakery,
and he went for it."
When Brian Miller purchased the bakery, the attitude was very much the
same as his dad's. He spent little time in the bakery growing up; his father hadn't
wanted to push the business on him and encouraged him to get jobs elsewhere.
After a year in law school, he got a call from his father offering first dibs on the
business before he sold or closed shop for good.
"We had never had a discussion of me taking over the business, but I moved
back home, and it's been an amazing ride," he said. "It was a very vertical learning curve. It's been very humbling. I had no experience reading P&Ls, managing
people, handling sales and operations. I was 25 years old. I didn't know what I
was getting myself into, and sometimes I think that's a good thing. It might have
been overwhelming if I truly knew what I was getting into."
The learning curve may have been steep, but Mr. Miller has implemented his
Soft pretzel buns,
twists and bites cool in
before being bagged or
packaged in tubs.
Photos by Front Room Studios
www.bakingandsnack.com / May 2018 Baking & Snack 35