The team at Rocky Mountain Pies has been playing a lot of defense the past two years. That may imply that things have been slow at the Salt Lake City-based company, but that assumption would be wrong. Rocky Mountain Pies finished last year 40% above budget without adding a single new customer. It turns out, pies are just as pandemic-proof as they are recession-proof.

“Once everything settled down in 2020 and people stopped stocking up on toilet paper, they weren’t going to restaurants anymore,” said Par Grandinetti, president of Rocky Mountain Pies. “Pies started flowing from the distribution centers to the grocery stores and demand was unbelievable, especially for our products that didn’t need to be handled. Thaw-and-serve products just exploded, so we steered into it and dealt with it.”

Unlike today, however, the company wasn’t dealing with rising ingredient and material costs or slow lead times on equipment, and labor challenges were hard but manageable, Mr. Grandinetti pointed out. In 2021, those challenges are acute and have Rocky Mountain Pies producing at capacity. Playing defense, as Mr. Grandinetti calls it, looks like taking care of the customers they have — mostly in-store bakery pie programs — and its employees, whether through competitive wages, retention programs or investing in equipment that will make their jobs easier.

“Understand the rules, play to win and we’ll get through this storm,” Mr. Grandinetti said. “We use that approach for every challenge, and it helps. It’s invigorating if you can win, but it’s hard to win when you’re only playing defense.”

While the rules keep changing in this current climate, Rocky Mountain Pies’ team has adapted while still holding true to its point of difference: the next best thing to grandma’s pies. While the company may be playing defense for now, Rocky Mountain Pies is looking forward to going on the offense with new automation and an expansion on the horizon.

This article is an excerpt from the November 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Rocky Mountain Pies, click here.