SOUTH AMANA, Iowa - The Amana Bakery is turning off its ovens Thursday. The decision to close comes after years of declining sales. Still, the closure is heartbreaking to the bakery's half a dozen employees, many of whom have made this their life's work.
Willard Glandorf has woken up before dawn and started baking bread nearly every morning for the past 52 years.
"My brother was working here then. Someone didn't show up for work, and I started, and I've been here ever since," said Glandorf.
Just like when Willard started at Amana Bakery, every loaf is still made by hand, but other things have changed.
"We used to have 25 to 40 doughs a day in the mixer. Now four, five, six depending on the order," Glandorf said.
Declining demand is why Amana Society, which owns and operates the bakery, decided to shut down production.
"We looked at other bakeries that are much better capitalized, much more modern, and if some of them can't compete. We finally said how can't we compete," said John Peterson, President & CEO of The Amana Society.
But you may still find some of the Amana products on store shelves, but it will be made by Bakers Pride in Burlington, not in Amana.
"We will start with a line of six of our highest volume products," said Peterson.
The new baker will use Amana's 70 year old recipes. The man who knows them better than anyone shared the secret to why he said it's better than the rest.
"It's the closest to homemade you can buy," said Glandorf.