All Big Businesses Start Small: Dorothy Lynch

Microsoft and Apple started in garages, and Facebook started in a dorm room.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lynch started selling her famous salad dressing at a Legion Hall in St. Paul, Nebraska. Todd Booth began his successful automotive business by working in the wash bay at a local car dealership after he graduated from high school.

While GROW Nebraska businesses haven’t reached the magnitude of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, many have grown from small businesses to successful enterprises that are continually increasing sales, creating jobs and bringing Nebraska to the world.

GROW Nebraska members Dorothy Lynch, Jayhawk Boxes, Baker’s Candies, Platte Valley Auto and Fat Boy BBQ are all successful businesses that started small and have grown tremendously in the past few decades.

Success didn’t happen overnight for these small-town Nebraska businesses. From creating quality products to treating customers well and keeping up with technology, each business has created its own unique path to prosperity. And, for many, GROW Nebraska has played a part in their success.

Dorothy Lynch/Tasty Toppings


In the late 1940s, Dorothy Lynch and her husband, Art, operated a restaurant at the Legion Club in St. Paul, where she created the now-famous recipe for Dorothy Lynch Home Style Dressing. As more Legion Club members tasted the sweet and spicy flavor, its popularity grew. Local residents started bringing in bottles to fill up with “that delicious Dorothy Lynch salad dressing.”

Steve Peterson, National Sales Manager for Dorothy Lynch, said Tasty Toppings purchased the recipe and business in 1964 and relocated production to Columbus.

“As the company grew and prospered, it moved to a larger new plant in Duncan, where it is currently located,” he said.

He said the Dorothy Lynch dressing that is manufactured today by Tasty Toppings “uses the best quality of product, made fresh to order, so it lasts longer and tastes better for the customer.”

What makes the dressing unique is the main ingredient: tomato soup, not oil like in most other salad dressings. Dorothy Lynch is also popularly used as a marinade, on barbecue, as an ingredient in recipes and as a dipping sauce.

“The sweet and spicy taste has great appeal to adults and children,” Peterson said.

Dorothy Lunch has adopted a “slow and steady growth” to secondary markets.

“We have concentrated upon steady growth and formed relationships with companies that help improve their profits,” he said. “We are currently in 27 states including retail and foodservice accounts that supply restaurants and schools.”

Peterson said the company’s growth can be attributed to trying different methods to reach customers and creating awareness with a new customer base. The company has shifted to more social media marketing and coordinated digital marketing and Facebook targeting with in-store promotions.

“We also have chosen neighboring markets to grow from within, not scattered around the country,” he said. “We are consistent with our quality of product, and people know what to expect.”

GROW Nebraska has played a part of the company’s success. Dorothy Lynch partnered with GROW Nebraska about five years ago to establish an online option for customers to purchase the salad dressing by the bottle or in bulk.

“We recognized a need to have a better presence online, and GROW has filled the gap,” Peterson said. “We are now reaching customers who don’t have a presence in their local markets. Getting distribution in new markets is an expensive venture, and you have to be prepared for the long haul. GROW Nebraska has provided an affordable answer to our problem.”

For more information about Dorothy Lynch, click here.

Shop Dorothy Lynch HERE

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that helps non-profits and businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

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