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Brothers Share Bakery Bond

Joe and Brian Crubaugh grew up in the industry

By Amy Behrendt

Ah, the power of social media!

The idea for this story came from a comment on the Wisconsin Bakers Association Facebook page earlier this year, after we posted a status update on a people’s choice contest for a TV station in the Madison area:

“How about a better story??? Two brothers that run the BEST Bakeries in WI:  Fosdal’s in Stoughton and Quality Bakery in Dodgeville.”

So we decided to find out more about Joe and Brian Crubaugh, and their respective bakeries which are located 60 miles apart in the south central, and southwest part of Wisconsin.  The boys not only share a last name, but a bond in the bakery industry that started when they were kids.  They both grew up helping their dad Mike at Quality Bakery, which Brian now owns.

In fact, Brian probably has called Quality Bakery his home away from home most of his life.  “I have been working at Quality Bakery since I was 10 years old,” he said.  “I did take a year and a half off for college, and time working at the other bakeries.”

Brian recalled the days working for his dad, and where the bakery road led from there.  In fact, the industry helped him meet his wife, Julie.  “When we were little, dad would put us to work with little jobs like sweeping and what not, and as we got older, we would start baking and decorating,” he said.  “I got my start at Dick’s Bakery (Platteville, Wis.), and Ted & Fred’s in Sparta, (Wis.).  When I was working at Dick’s Bakery, I actually met my wife, who was working the deli.”

Joe said that by 15, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the baking industry.  “By 15, I knew it was something I wanted to do:  Working in a bakery,” Joe said.  “My dad questioned me, and asked me to make sure it’s what I really wanted to do.  He said if that’s what I want to do, I should get out there and get some experience in other shops.”

Joe’s baking adventures took him to study at Dunwoody in Minneapolis, Minn.  He said while in that area, he also worked at other bakeries, including mom and pop shops, and supermarket bakeries.  Coming back to Wisconsin, he started working at Fosdal’s for Gerry and the late Bev Fosdal.  He was there for 10 years, and managed the bakery for them.  Joe said he moved on from there for a while, and then came back to buy the business.  He has owned the business the past eight years, and has worked there for 20 years total.

When talking about his dedication to the industry, Joe emphasized the word passion.  While he may have the responsibilities that come with owning a business, he is happiest on the bench.  “It all comes back to passion,” he said.  “I’m happiest on the baking side:  I have a passion for baking.  I like to bake.  I’m happiest when I’m on the production side of things.”

In fact, passion for the industry is what helps Fosdal’s stand out from others, according to Joe.  “Going back to that word passion:   It’s a passion for me,” he said.  “It’s on a daily basis that you have to have that passion.  You need to do it every day to make it right.”

Brian said family tradition, and being in business almost 84 years, helps his business stand out from the others.  “You have whole generations who stop in from the bakery,” Brian said.  “You see children grow up and bring their own children in for their favorite treat.  It definitely holds a special place in people’s hearts.  Being a small town helps as well. Dodgeville residents have been very loyal to our local business amongst a shift towards retail/big box bakeries.”

How do the brothers work together to help each other’s businesses?  Brian’s answer was simple:  “Stay out of each other’s hair!” he said with a laugh.  All joking aside, Joe said they do stay in touch and with all the technology, staying in touch is easier than ever these days.  “Brian and I rarely see each other, but we’ll talk business from the state association side of things, or sometimes talk from an ingredient side of things,” Joe said.

With all the great products to choose from between the two businesses, just don’t ask the brothers’ family members to choose their favorite bakery!  “We try not to make them choose,” Brian said with a laugh.  “Family holidays usually involve treats from both bakeries. Our family definitely has a sweet tooth!”

Bakery-to-bakery:  A closer look at Fosdal’s Home Bakery and Quality Bakery

* Number of Employees (full and part-time)

Fosdal’s:  30

Quality Bakery:  Nine

* Year Opened

Fosdal’s:  1949

Quality Bakery:  1928

* Family members working at the business

Fosdal’s:  Joe said his son Justin, daughter Kara, son-in-law Bryan and wife Kim all are involved in the business.  “My grandson Nolan (19 months) is the ‘new boss’ and he enjoys coming in quite often to tell people how it goes in the bakery,” Joe said with a laugh.

Quality Bakery:  “My brother Chris and nephew Mak are full-time help, while my daughter Courtney helps out in the front and back with book keeping,” Brian said.  “My daughter Katie also helps with Web site and other online marketing, when she has time. My grandson (Jaden) and granddaughter (Josie) love to help scrub floors and decorate cakes, but the cakes end up with so much gobs of frosting and sugar sprinkles, making them almost inedible!”

* Bakery Specialties

Fosdal’s:  Norwegian items.  Joe also said they have a strong wholesale business.
Quality Bakery:  Pastries and Saffron

*  Find both businesses on Facebook:

Fosdal’s Home Bakery      Quality Bakery

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