“If we were selling signs, we would have left the name the same but we are selling the same great tasting desserts we always have,” Knowles said.”The Alden Merrell brand is alive and well. We have very much kept the recipes the same. We have not made any significant changes to any of the recipes. We use nothing but the best quality ingredients, and we are very much a premium brand. There is nothing to be gained by trying to cheapen those things because people will stop buying it.”
Prior to Knowles and Scales’ tenure, the facility’s plant would be shut down for 18 weeks during the year, requiring the employees to either go on unemployment or find other work. Since the pair arrived, the facility only shuts down for two weeks at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The people who are producing the Alden Merrell brand are the same people who have been doing it for the past 20 years,” said Knowles. “The only thing we have done is augmented the production staff with an administrative staff, because all the administrative functions were being done in Pittsburgh. But in terms of who is putting the batter in the pans, who is baking it, it’s all the same people who were producing it prior to the acquisition.”
Dianne’s currently runs two shifts, four days a week.
“We want to treat people well, we want to support the community, we want to do all of that,” said Knowles. “But we also want to provide a good place to work.”
Once the cakes, pies and other assorted goodies are made, they head out to Chicago then out to the rest of the continental U.S. and parts of Canada.
“Alden Merrell is a very strong regional brand in New England,” said Knowles. “Dianne’s is extremely strong in the Midwest.”
Knowles said the fourth quarter with the winter holidays is his company’s biggest time of the year, followed closely by the spring with Easter, Mother’s Day and graduation parties.
“This is all we do. Desserts,” said Knowles. “It’s all we want to do.”