Winchester’s own, Wick’s Pies, will celebrate their seventy-fifth anniversary on Saturday, September 21.
“My grandfather started his first restaurant at Anchor in September of 1944,” says Dylan Wickersham, a member of the third generation of the Wickersham family carrying on the family tradition.
Wickersham continues, “The reason we chose to have this on September 21, is that was his birthday.”
Wickersham’s grandfather, Duane E. “Wick” Wickersham, a life-long Randolph County resident became aware of a shortage of quality pie to serve in his restaurant.
He and his wife Ruby arrived at the solution of baking their own pies. At the time, they were making 20 kinds of pie every day. News of the excellent quality and flavor of the pies spread by word of mouth and he soon found many of his competitors becoming customers. Customers were especially fond of the “Sugar Cream Pie.”
This pie, still their best seller, came from the recipe of Duane’s grandmother. Worried about other bakers trying to copy it, in 1962, Wickersham sought and obtained the first U.S. Patent on a pie “Old Fashion Sugar Cream.” In 2009, the State Senate passed a resolution declaring sugar cream pie, sometimes referred to as “Hoosier Pie”, to be the official State Pie of Indiana.
From raising pigs to starting a trucking company, Duane “Wick” Wickersham was always a hard working entrepreneur.
On September 2, 1944, Wick was making a delivery to the Anchor Hocking glass factory and upon arrival noticed a commotion; an employee had spent his lunch hour at the pub and returned intoxicated. In his impaired state the employee caused an accident that shut down production. He overheard the plant managers complaining about how often their employees were getting intoxicated during their lunch break, and Wick suggested that they open a café inside the facility so employees would stay for lunch. A week later, the owners of the factory called him and asked if he would like to open that cantina. After a successful first year, he sold the cantina to the factory and started The Rainbow Restaurant in downtown Winchester.
Using many of his Grandmother’s recipes, Wick was successful with his new restaurant. The pies were such a hit (especially Sugar Cream Pie) that he started delivering them out of a 1934 Buick Sedan.
Wick reached his goal of producing and selling 300 pies per day after just 4 years. Through hard work and word of mouth, the demand for Wick’s pies outgrew his capacity, and he needed to scale his production.
In 1961, Wick purchased a building at 217 SE Greenville Ave just East of downtown Winchester and built his new production line which featured a nitrogen freezing process that allowed for the shipment of frozen pies. Wick’s Pies is still at this location.
Wick’s production facility is approximately 15,000 square feet with ample freezer space attached. Wick’s produces 73 different bakery products.
Production capacity per eight-hour production shift is approximately 30,000 raw pie shells, and an additional 10,000 baked pie shells or 10,000 baked pies.
Typically, Wick’s will operate two eight-hour production shifts and will add overtime hours as sales dictate. A minimum of four hours each day is reserved for plant and equipment cleaning and sanitizing.
Wick’s Foods manufactures fruit glazes such as strawberry, peach, blueberry, and sugar free strawberry.
Wick’s currently maintains a fleet of two tractor-trailers for distribution purposes. Depending upon order flow, they will typically distribute upon their own carriers within a 300 to 400 mile radius of Winchester, Indiana. Delivery Service outside of this area is provided by less than truckload frozen carriers.
Wick’s maintains a customer base of around 230 customers throughout 40 states. This customer base can be broken into 5 categories-Retail, Bakery, Food Service, Private Label, and Food Remanufacturing.
Major retail customers are Kroger, Super Valu, Nash Finch, Meijer and Wal-Mart. Major food service customers are Sysco, Gordon, U.S. Foodservice, and many other independent distributors Major bakery customers are Lipari Foods, Dawn, BakeMark, and Ben E. Keith.
Like many family businesses, Wick employed his own children to help grow the company.
• Wick’s daughter, Paulette was hired in 1983 to work in production and retired as HR manager in 2006.
• Her son, Rob Kelly, has been with the company since 1990 and is now the plant manager.
• In 1985, Mike Wickersham joined his father at Wick’s Pies and became the new company president.
• Mike’s son, Dylan, was brought on in 2014 for sales, social media and marketing.
• In 1990, Marsha Wickersham, Wick’s Daughter, joined Wick’s Pies to head up sales. Together, the family has grown Wick’s Pies by staying true to Wick’s values of making the highest quality product while providing great customer service.
Today they employ more than 70 people who are part of the Wick’s Pies family. Duane left Wick’s Pies and with his wife Ruby, started Mrs. Wick’s Restaurant in 1985.
Mrs. Wick’s is a staple of the community making 38 varieties of pies and housing the company’s retail outlet. Duane E. “Wick” Wickersham retired from the Company in January of 1999 and passed away on November 6th, 2008.
In honor of their 75 years in business, Wick’s Pies is donating one dollar from every pie sold in stores in the month of September to the Riley Children’s Foundation. All proceeds from the anniversary celebration will also benefit the Riley Children’s Foundation.
The Pork and Pie Fest will be from 4:00-9:00PM at 636 Ludy Road in Winchester. A cornhole tournament will begin at 4:00 PM with a cash prize of $100 going to the winner.
A dinner of barbecue pork and pie will be served beginning at 5:30PM, the cost of the meal will be a $5 donation.
Tickets are available, while supplies last, at Mrs. Wick’s in Winchester. The John Beatrice Band from Indianapolis will provide live music. Historical photos, antique equipment and various memorabilia from the 75 year history of Wick’s Pies will be on display.