Alfred Nickles was born in Switzerland in 1884. In 1903, after training in the art of baking in Switzerland and France, Alfred immigrated to the United States. In 1909, Alfred founded Alfred Nickles Bakery in Navarre, Ohio.
In 1925, Ernest Nickles joined his father Alfred in the family business. He grew up in a home next to the bakery. He married his sweetheart Lucile Rowe who would always be known as “Cookie!” When he married, he moved one block from the bakery where he lived the rest of his life. Ernest worked 7 days each and every week. He was known to check the bakery every single night.
Ernest Nickles greatest accomplishment was transitioning Nickles Bakery from a company with 600 routes serving homes, to a wholesale baking company with over 500 routes serving groceries, restaurants and institutions. Ernest was the company’s first Sales Manager.
During his 70-year career with Nickles, Ernest was responsible for the Company acquiring 5 baking companies in Ohio and Indiana. Ultimately, the Company had 5 bakeries and 42 sales distribution branches which covered 7 Midwestern states. The Nickles largest bakery in Navarre became known as the most unique bakery in the United States, mainly because of the 13 different production lines. The majority of the ideas for new products were from Ernest Nickles himself!
Ernest developed a great team of Officers who managed the company and its assets. This team included his brother Edward, his brother-in-law David E. Gardner, and his son-in-law Jim Gerber. At the urging of Ernest Nickles, Nickles Bakery became a charter member of the Long Company, an independent baking co-operative that still operates today.
When Ernest died in 1995, he left a legacy of a truly outstanding food company, one that produced the highest quality breads, buns and pastry; had 2,000 dedicated employees, 10 of which are Nickles descendants; operated on the principles of sound ethics and conservative decision-making; was based on integrity between the company and its customers and suppliers and existed to perpetuate the family business.
Click on the images below to view .pdf files of the inductee’s biography and plaque.