Alabama entrepreneur turned grandmother’s dinner roll recipe into successful business

Patricia “Sister Schubert” Barnes took her grandmother’s recipe for dinner rolls and with demand for the tasty rolls and her business acumen she grew the cottage industry into a successful business that now makes and sells nearly a dozen bakery products across the United States.

Barnes was the speaker Tuesday at the AUM Division of Continuing Education’s Business Breakfast series events at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill. River Region sponsors of the AUM series include the Business Council of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.

Starting out in her kitchen in Troy in the 1980s, Barnes’ rolls were in demand by neighbors, friends, and her church. Today, Sister Schubert in three locations makes nine million rolls a day that are sold in thousands of stores across the United States. She credits her family, employees, and her faith for the company’s growth.

She was so sure of her rolls that when she got an order from a grocer, she and her daughters would set up and handle the samples. “I knew if I could get people to taste my rolls, they would buy them,” Barnes says.

Barnes serves as Culinary Ambassador for the State of Alabama, is a visiting executive at the Harbert School of Business at Auburn University, serves on the Women’s Philanthropy Board, and is a member of the Dean’s Board of School of Human Sciences. Barnes also sits on the Foundation Board at Troy University.

Barnes talked about her business idea, new product development, and her faith. The Barnes Family Foundation established in 2001 enables Barnes to use her financial resources to support charitable services – food to the hungry, cash, and medical supplies to abandoned children in the Ukraine.

Barnes collaborated with missionaries and was instrumental in raising money to build an orphanage in the Ukraine. She also supports scholarships to help young students study overseas.

The AUM Business Breakfast Series was created over 27 years ago in Montgomery and hosts these periodic breakfast meetings on AUM’s Campus. In addition, the AUM Business Breakfast Series was expanded 5 years ago to include a partnership with the City of Prattville and the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce and hosts meetings at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill.

 The next is scheduled May 22 at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill featuring businessman and motivational speaker Mark Eaton, who played 12 years in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. He is writing a book, “Four Commitments of a Winning Team.”

–Dana Beyerle