Beiler, Anne - Founder, Auntie Anne's, Inc.
Anne attended a small Amish school until the 8th grade.
Anne & Jonas Beiler's life went into a tailspin after the death of their 19-month-old daughter, who was run over by a farm tractor in 1975. Anne, in her mid-20s at the time, found herself depressed and eventually on the brink of suicide. Despite being a faithful churchgoer, she didn't feel she could share her pain with friends or family members.
Anne and Jonas drifted apart. The couple didn't talk about the tragedy and its ramifications. Instead, they remained silent partners who simply lived together. Anne opted to stay with her husband for the sake of their other two surviving daughters. She sought counsel from her pastor, who used the vulnerability of a grieving mother to manipulate her into an affair which lasted six years.
After repenting to her husband, Anne & Jonas sought counseling. The Beilers reconciled as God restored their marriage. God also revealed to the couple that many Christians around them also suffered with a great deal of silent despair. After studying at Dr. Richard Dobbins's EMERGE Ministries in Akron, Ohio, Jonas began providing lay counseling as a way to help such broken people.
In order to make ends meet in those early years, Anne recollected her youthful baking days growing up on an Amish-Mennonite farm with seven siblings. Because Anne had asthma she didn't venture outside much, and thus became the cook and baker for the family. By age 12, Anne made up to 70 pies and cakes from scratch each week for sale at a nearby farmer's market. She didn't skimp on ingredients, and always carefully made sure the wares looked and tasted great.
From that modest start, the Beilers have become one of the nation's leading entrepreneurs. The Beilers recently celebrated the grand opening of their family center in September, 2008. The Family Center of Gap is a 25,000 square foot facility in place to meet the needs of the community.
But it was their first business, Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, that the Beilers are most famous for.In the first 15 years, the company has grown from a single outlet in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to more than 900 worldwide, with a workforce of more than 10,000. Auntie Anne's, with its international headquarters in Lancaster, PA., has found a niche among snack-seeking mall shoppers.