John F. Popp, president of Aunt Millie’s Bakeries, is the third generation to lead Aunt Millie’s Bakeries which was founded in 1901 in Fort Wayne, Indiana by John’s maternal grandfather, John B. Franke.
Graduating from University of Michigan in 1954, John Popp entered the United States Army and was stationed in Maryland and New Jersey, working on tank ballistics and statistics. Following military service, Mr. Popp was offered a position at T Rowe Price as an analyst for Mr. Price.
After soul searching and discussion with his parents, Les and Lucile Popp, John Popp joined the family business, then known as Perfection Biscuit Company. Mr. Popp started working on bakery operations and personnel. In 1967, Mr. Popp left the bakery to work independently as a realtor and real estate developer. Through the late 1960’s and 1970’s, John Popp was instrumental in developing several large residential subdivisions.
In 1980, John Popp returned to Perfection Biscuit as president of the company. Soon afterward, the company acquired the Way Baking Company. Perfection continued to expand into the southwest Ohio and southern Indiana markets. In 2005, the company changed from Perfection Bakeries to Aunt Millie’s Bakeries.
A strong advocate for independent businesses, Mr. Popp worked with the Independent Bakers Association in 2001 to convince the U.S. Congress to extend a little-noticed Environmental Protection Agency order covering mixer bowl coolants. His action saved millions of dollars in potential fines and replacement costs for independent bakeries throughout the country. Education is another passion of his. Mr. Popp has taught Junior Achievement classes and served as a member of the local school district’s board as well as the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. At Aunt Millie’s Bakeries, he encourages continuing education for the bakery staff and offers R&D internships to multiple university students. Mr. Popp has participated in the activities of the W.E. Long Co., Quality Bakers of America, and the American Bakers Association.
Aunt Millie’s Bakeries is a family-owned company headquartered in Fort Wayne. Operating five bakeries, the company’s many brands are distributed throughout the United States with primary distribution in the Midwest. The bakery is a major supplier of fresh bread, buns, rolls and other bakery products to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and food service distributors in their marketing area.
Today, Aunt Millie’s Bakeries currently employs more than 1,600 people in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Illinois and continues to grow. In addition to Mr. Popp, his sons, Bohn and Chris, are carrying on the tradition by becoming 4th generation bakery owners. In 2021, Aunt Millie’s will be celebrating the bakery’s 120th anniversary.