Scotland Business Set to Expand

Dockendorf, Randy. "Scotland Business Set to Expand." Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, 30 September 2011.

Scotland - As the owners of a wholesale bakery operation, Roger and Lori Pietz are used to rolling in the dough.

But it was the dough provided by local supporters that allowed the Scotland couple to take their business to the next level.

Four persons loaned the Pietzes the money to purchase and remodel a building along South Dakota Highway 25, near the school. The Pietzes have realized their dream of opening a larger production facility and a retail store featuring their items and other South Dakota-made products.

Roger Pietz said the loan was totally unsolicited.

“We have always wanted to do (the expansion) for the people of our community,” he said. “These individuals came forward and said, ‘We just love what you have done to promote Scotland, and you’ve really hit a home run with this business.’ They loaned us the money and took a chance on us. We couldn’t do this (project) without them.”

The Pietzes are hosting a ribbon cutting Saturday for Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen & Specialties. While held for a private business, the Pietzes consider the event a community and state celebration.

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels of Yankton will speak at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Michels called his remarks more of a personal visit than a formal state appearance.

“I met Roger and Lori when I was in Scotland,” the lieutenant governor said. “We reacquainted ourselves when we met in the (Capitol) rotunda while Roger was showcasing small businesses, particularly their business, during Scotland Day.”

The Pietzes started their business from the ground up — well, actually, from below ground level.

The couple opened the Kuchen Kitchen in 2008, converting their basement into a bakery and assembly line for the German custard-filled pastry and official state dessert.

Roger admits that some people — including the Pietzes themselves — questioned starting up a new business as a recession kicked in.

“We were very uncertain of this, but we continued because we put so much time and effort into it,” he said. “Even with these tough economic times, we have found the local people really support us because the product has that homemade quality. We also do tremendous amounts of promotion.”

The Pietzes started selling kuchen in Scotland and Tyndall grocery stores, then area supermarkets. Now in its fourth year, the business offers 15 varieties of kuchen and has added kolaches, a Czech pastry.

The kuchen and kolaches are sold at nearly 60 retail shops around South Dakota as well as areas in Minnesota and Iowa. The Pietzes currently employ four people.

The success has even spawned the annual Kuchen Festival and the crowning of a Kuchen Queen to represent the community. The queen’s appearances include Scotland Day during the legislative session.

As people of faith, the Pietzes credit God for their success. “We give praise to the Lord first in all things. We always make sure that’s the way it is,” Roger said.

Roger also credits the support from their hometown of about 900 residents.

“In a small town, people grow together,” he said. “This isn’t about Roger or Lori Pietz; this has been a community effort. If it wasn’t for the community, supporting us right off the bat, it wouldn’t have grown to where it is today.”

The Pietzes know all about growth. They are ready to move out of their basement and have been making the transition to their expanded facility.

“We can bake up to 600 kuchen in one day, and we can bake 1,200 kolaches in one day,” Roger said. “We have sold probably close to 100,000 kuchen since we started.”

With the expanded facility, the business will add German strudels, potato dumplings and homemade “take and bake” pizzas. The bakery will also roll out such items as caramel rolls, cinnamon rolls, sweet buns and white and wheat bread.

As part of Saturday’s open house, the Pietzes will provide samples of South Dakota-made products. The line-up includes corn fed buffalo meat from Ralph Mahoney of Mitchell, sheep chislic from Kerry and Kathy Kepplinger of Scotland, Dimock cheese and Kaylor Locker meats.

The retail store won’t be open Mondays and Tuesdays, the big baking days for the wholesale outlets, Roger said. The retail area will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays with room for 25 people to enjoy coffees, cappuccinos and baked goods.

The new location along a state highway has already attracted out-of-state motorists who pull over when they see the signs on the building, Roger said.

“That’s what is really the amazing part in this whole thing. We can’t get over it,” he said.

Such ingenuity breeds success, Michels said.

“Small businesses are really the lifeblood of South Dakota, along with agriculture,” he said. “They keep communities like Scotland pulsing with economic vibrancy.”

Saturday’s ribbon cutting provides a tribute to the Pietzes, Michels said.

“They are willing to take the risk and follow their dreams, first to the wholesale and now to the retail business,” he said.

Roger said he and his wife can hardly wait to open the expanded facility. “We always dreamed of this day, and it’s finally here,” he said.

Reprinted with permission of Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan.

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