PLEASANT VALLEY, Mo. – A family-owned business in Pleasant Valley is making a name for itself in the cookie cutting industry.
Joel and Tammy Hughes founded Off the Beaten Path in 1993. They started by selling cookie cutters in magazine ads at the suggestion of Joel’s mother.
“This is kind of a niche industry,” Joel Hughes said.
Twenty-five years later, they’re now the largest manufacturer of cookie cutters west of the Mississippi River.
“A lot of the tin cookie cutter manufacturing has moved overseas,” Hughes said. “There are really only three major cookie cutter factories left in the United States, and we’re one of those three.”
Off the Beaten Path, which is also known by cookiecutter.com, has seven employees and can make about 4,000 cookie cutters a day.
“Last year, we manufactured a little more than 300,000 cookie cutters, and that’s growing because we’re adding new designs on a weekly basis,” Hughes said.
The company has more than 800 designs to choose from and making the molds requires a human touch at every step of the process.
“There’s nothing that’s completely automatic when it comes to making a cookie cutter,” Hughes said. “There has to be some human hands involved in some capacity.”
The process starts with a strip of tin steel that’s rolled cut and rolled into a ring. It’s then molded into its desired shape before being spot-wielded together.
“One cookie cutter could be made in about a minute,” Hughes said.
They sometimes opt to use a hydraulic machine if they must fill a large order.
“It makes more sense to run on the hydraulic because it’s a lot less wearing on your hands and arms and it’s just a little bit faster,” Hughes said.
Ninety percent of the company’s product is shipped across the United States; the other ten percent makes it around the world.
The company is constantly adding to its collection of shapes
“There’s no end to the shapes that can be made out there,” Hughes said. “In this business, the sky is the limit.”
Hughes said the endless possibilities and the joy of knowing their product is putting smiles on the faces of families makes the job fun and exciting week to week.
“Everybody loves cookies,” Hughes said.