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In 1991, Ken and Marlene decided to start producing their braided pastries on a large scale in the “basement” of their family home. They created the Butter Braid® brand name for the pastries and named the company Country Maid, Inc. At this time, they began incorporating a filling into the pastries and started selling them frozen so people could bake them whenever they wanted. Ken marketed the pastries through his job selling office equipment. Every time he sold a piece of equipment, he would give his customer a pastry.

The History

Ken and Marlene Banwart were married in 1974. They had 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls, and lived in West Bend, IA where Ken was a farmer. However, when the farming crunch hit, Ken got a part-time job selling office equipment. In 1989, Ken suggested he and Marlene begin selling produce and baked goods at the local farmer’s market. One of those baked goods was a plain, braided pastry; those pastries instantly became a hit. People would be waiting in line when they arrived and began to call and ask them to make more. In the fall of 1990, a week before Christmas, they had 60 calls from people wanting their braided pastries.

Some of the schools Ken would stop at wanted to sell the pastries as a fundraiser. This idea stuck with Ken and would eventually bloom into something great. Toward the end of 1991, Ken quit his sales job and started selling pastries full time. The basement was getting too small for them, so they renovated their two-car garage into a new production area. Within six months, they were delivering to 50 stores and had outgrown the “garage.”

In 1992, they moved their business to a renovated building in West Bend. In 1997, they bought another, larger building, nicknamed the “Hatchery,” for production and storage. In 2002, the decision was made to remove the pastries from the retail market and sell them exclusively through fundraisers. This was done in order to help the company further fulfill its mission of “Helping Others Help Each Other.”

Country Maid Today

Country Maid is still located in the small, farming community of West Bend, IA that Ken and Marlene started it in. The company has done a lot of growing since then. We moved from the Hatchery, built a bigger office space, and added a new production area. We also now have more than 80 full-time employees and distribute our products in over 45 states. Our great customer service and unique problem-solving abilities have allowed us to become leaders in the frozen food manufacturing industry.

Through the years, we have added additional products to our production line. Along with our Danish pastries, we now offer cake rolls, cookie dough, and braided breads. In recent years, we’ve expanded and brought our products into the retail market.

However, many of our products are still only available through local fundraisers, keeping with the tradition started by Ken and Marlene. Our fundraising products are represented by over 75 independent dealerships across the United States. Each dealer services a different territory and carries unique products and flavor line ups. And, by working together, Country Maid and its dealer network have helped thousands of groups, raising over $280 million for local causes.

Country Maid - Ken and Marlene's Farm House
1991
Started in basement of the Banwart’s farm home then expanded to the garage.
Group of Country Maid employees in front of old office - Hatchery
1992
Moved to renovated building in West Bend – The Old Hatchery.
Country Maid Team at Table
2003
Became 100% Employee Owned (ESOP).
Country Maid building
2010
Built a new, state-of-the-art production facility.
Photo of old Dutch Country building
2016
Acquired Dutch Country. Later rebranded to Dutch Apron® Bakery. 
Country Maid 30th Anniversary Logo
2021
Celebrating 30 years in business!
Country Maid - Ken and Marlene's Farm House
1991
Started in basement of the Banwart’s farm home then expanded to the garage.
Group of Country Maid employees in front of old office - Hatchery
1992
Moved to renovated building in West Bend – The Old Hatchery.
Country Maid Team at Table
2003
Became 100% Employee Owned (ESOP).
Country Maid building
2010
Built a new, state-of-the-art production facility.
Photo of old Dutch Country building
2016
Acquired Dutch Country. Later rebranded to Dutch Apron® Bakery. 
Country Maid 30th Anniversary Logo
2021
Celebrating 30 years in business!
“Country Maid makes us feel appreciated and valued. They are always doing something to make all the employees feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to just be better people.”
Suzie Zittritsch
Warehouse Associate
“Country Maid cares about quality goods going to their customers. We want to be sure that everything that’s going out the door is the best quality, and that each and every one of our customers can enjoy our products because they know it’s been made with love.”
Brenda Miller
QA/SQF Manager
“Country Maid has provided me with great opportunities for growth over the years. I started as a seasonal employee and have advanced my job knowledge and skills to become the Production Supervisor. Thank you, Country Maid! Here’s to 30 more great years!”
Nicole L. Cole-Leners
Production Supervisor (13 years)
“I am grateful to Country Maid for providing a stable, competitive employment opportunity for our rural community. Small towns are the lifeblood of America, and companies like Country Maid keep them thriving. It’s neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends which makes it an even more special place to work.”
Deb Bleuer
Assistant Supervisor/ Production Associate (27 years)
“Country Maid has been one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. I really appreciate all the opportunities to learn the different tasks – from the art of braiding to mixing the cake batter and pastry dough. Also, the people here are amazing to work with. Together, it makes Country Maid a great place to be.”
Colleen Kenyon
Production Associate
“I feel so blessed to work at a beautiful facility where our teams are willing to help each other and stand behind faith, integrity, and balance to make the culture amazing!”
Laura Schmidt
Accountant

What Makes us Different

Giving people a way to help each other is so deeply woven into our DNA that in three decades we’ve expanded our reach across the US, distributing our baked goods in grocers nationwide, and into the digital space, developing proprietary fundraising software.

Our Values

Faith
We believe in what cannot be seen with the eyes alone. We have the humility to acknowledge a power greater than ourselves, and that humility enriches and gives purpose to life.

Our Values

Integrity
We build trust by making decisions that always abide by the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Integrity is foundational to nurturing the connection with our colleagues that we hold dear.

Our Values

Attitude
We believe that optimism triumphs over negativity and cynicism. We will always look for evidence of the good—the image of God—not only in other people but also in circumstances, events, and, ultimately, ourselves.

Our Values

Discipline
We always accept responsibility for our thoughts, words, and actions. We focus on controlling our emotions, thoughts, and reactions.

Our Values

Relationships
We value our relationships – with God, our families, our friends, our community, and our colleagues. We believe strong relationships are built on healthy, trusting, loyal, lasting connections and improve all involved.

Our Values

Growth
We’re never complacent. Our commitment to continued improvement is unwavering, with a capacity to understand, adapt, and embrace change throughout life. We believe every experience is an opportunity for growth.

Our Values

Balance
We strive for equilibrium among body, mind, and spirit; work, family, and play; avoiding excess at all times. We seek out team members with attitudes and talents that complement each other.

Community Support

Country Maid Cares

Quite simply, our job is to help. With our commitment to our key values, Country Maid makes it easier for everyday Americans to love their neighbors and for the organizations they love to grow. We also know it’s important that we live our mission, and that’s why we’ve established Country Maid Cares, our own community giving organization.