Dave Dahl’s redemption road from drugs and 15 years in prison to phenomenal success in the bread industry has jackknifed back toward a courtroom.
Dahl, maker of Dave’s Killer Bread — part of a $50 million business — was jailed in November 2013 in Oregon “… on charges that include assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and reckless driving. Three deputies were treated for minor injuries,” according to an Associated Press report.
The Willamette Week had further details: “Dahl … rammed two Washington County sheriff’s patrol cars with his Cadillac Escalade. Deputies had been called to deal with a man having a “mental breakdown.” Dahl faces a felony charge of second-degree attempted assault with a dangerous weapon. Fair to say that Dahl appears to be battling old demons again.
For the complete story, see Breaking Bread: How the redemption story of troubled baker Dave Dahl began to crumble
Dahl, 51, was born into a baking family (Dahl’s father started NatureBake), but made his mark in the criminal world: Assault, drug dealing and addiction, prison escape and armed robbery led to suicide attempts and a bleak future. In and out of prison, Dahl was released once again in 2004 and offered a chance at Damascene change by brother and NatureBake owner Glenn Dahl. From Inc.: “… it was 2004, and Dave was getting out of prison again. Glenn went through the same painful calculations. Dave was an absurd risk; he had to shut the door on him. But Dave was a brother, too. Glenn decided to give him one more chance.”
Dave Dahl stepped away from his past and thrived at NatureBake, concocting a top-drawer recipe and promoting his bread — 100 loaves — at a Portland farmer’s market. His creation, initially called Dave’s Bread, was a great product with solid potential, but a limited marketing future. Seismic change came with a slight alteration of the bread’s name. From Inc.: “Dave’s Bread … was a safe gambit and a modest one, until Dave threw the word Killer onto the label. Then, it was as though he had stepped into the shoes of Paul Newman. The Portland media lavished him with press. The families of ex-cons wrote Dave heartfelt letters. Women lined up at supermarket demos, hungry for a glimmering moment with the bad boy turned sweetie pie.”
Dave’s Killer Bread soon absorbed NatureBake and the company surged, riding Dahl’s past to sell his present. Each bag of bread is stamped with Dahl’s image and one version contains a few words of confession: “… A whole lot of suffering has transformed an ex-con into an honest man who is doing his best to make the world a better place … one loaf of bread at a time.”
Dahl was the catalyst as the company jumped from 30 employees to over 300 (approximately a third are ex-cons) and sales spread across 16 Western states — $53 million in annual sales. He found acclaim and prosperity with Dave’s Killer Bread, and yet, after another reversal, Dahl is once again in serious trouble. Maybe the story will turn once again for the better — another Road to Damascus stop for Dave Dahl.