From Behind Bars to Grocery Store Shelves: The Story of Dave's Killer Bread

by Maureen Frost

Dave's Killer Bread
It’s not always the case that when you pick up a loaf of bread at the store that there’s a story behind it. With Dave’s Killer Bread, it’s Dave Dahl’s storied past that gives their bread life and his philosophy towards second chances that gives the organization its soul.
With roots in the bakery business, Dave grew up baking the sprouted bread of his father’s health-focused brand, NatureBake. Not keen on the industry just yet, Dave’s life took a different path that led to 15 years of intermittent incarceration.
Upon his return to society, Dave rejoined the family business in Portland, Oregon where he developed his new healthy product, Dave’s Killer Bread, with his brother Glenn and nephew Shobi. They took their new fare to the local farmer’s market and it was an instant hit. Fast forward to now, Dave’s Killer Bread is sold in every state and Canada and is the favorite of families and foodies everywhere.
So what sets Dave’s Killer Bread apart from other successful brands? We sat down with Cristina Watson, Marketing Manager of Dave’s Killer Bread to find out just what contributed to the success of the company.

Dave’s Killer Bread’s core mission is two-fold. It includes making sure their bread is the best in the universe in both taste and nutrition. These standards include using only certified organic and non-GMO ingredients, making zero sacrifices when it comes to the quality of the products, and listening to what their consumer base wants. All of these factors together created a killer line of products that include White Bread Done Right, Cinnamon Raisin Remix bagels, Thin-Sliced Good Seed bread, and much more.
Part two of the mission is their commitment to giving formerly incarcerated individuals a job opportunity through their Second Chance Employment initiative. A standard practice for the family business, even when Dave was still in prison, one-third of the company’s roster today consists of individuals with a criminal record. Simply put, they hire qualified people regardless of their past. Watson explained, “If you’re ready to change your life and you are in a good place where you are willing to take that opportunity in front of you, then you should be given that opportunity.” The Second Chance portion of the Milwaukee facility is a part of their foundation. It’s never been about having a mission just for the sake of it. They like to say, “It’s baked into who we are.”
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It’s this mission-based hiring practice that gives Dave the magic loyal consumers connect with. The energy and engagement is palpable when you enter Dave’s Killer Bread HQ. “It’s not a sense of entitlement. These are people who genuinely may not have gotten a lot of opportunities. So if you give them one, they are the most loyal people you’ve got. That is something that just bleeds into everything that we do. It makes our products better, it makes our brand more exciting, and it makes consumers more loyal to us,” says Watson.
The company has taken their practices even further with the establishment of the Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation in 2015. Through this non-profit, they now promote this type of employment, helping other businesses see past the stigma of having former criminals on their payroll.
For other brands hoping to reach the success Dave’s Killer Bread has achieved, Cristina suggests establishing your goals in advance, asking what your audience is looking for, and then figuring out how to resonate with them. For Dave’s Killer Bread, this meant partnering with Moms Meet to reach their target audience. To them, moms are the superhero of the family and reaching them is a must. Making sure their families are fed nutritious food—food they’ll actually want to eat because it tastes so good—that’s high on a mom’s priority list. Dave’s Killer Bread succeeds in both of these arenas. Through their partnership with us, they’ve been able to reach their target audience and make lifelong customers by giving their base what they want, the world’s best organic bread.

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