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"Out of Our Pain, Our Purpose was Born"
Born and raised in the Amish-Mennonite community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jonas and Anne Beiler grew up surrounded by faith and family. During these early years, important life lessons were permanently woven into the fabric of their lives.
Jonas and Anne both attended traditional Amish schools until the 8th grade. They met as teens and were married by the age of 21 and 19, respectively.
Jonas and Anne's peaceful life as newlyweds and young parents went into a tailspin after the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Angela Joy, who died tragically in a farming accident in 1975. Anne, in her mid-20s at the time, found herself depressed and eventually on the brink of suicide. Despite being a faithful churchgoer, she didn't feel she could share her pain with friends or family members.
Jonas and Anne drifted apart. They remained silent partners who simply lived together and went through the motions of family life. They stayed together for the sake of their other two surviving daughters. Anne sought counsel from her pastor, who used the vulnerability of her grief to manipulate and control her for more than six years.
After confessing the manipulation to her husband, the Beilers sought counseling. The Beilers reconciled as God restored their marriage. Through the repair of their own marriage, God revealed that many others were suffering from the same despair and hopelessness. After studying at Dr. Richard Dobbins' EMERGE Ministries in Akron, Ohio, Jonas began providing lay counseling as a way to give back and help others.
To support Jonas' vision to help others, Anne bought a concession stand at a local farmers' market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. She sold everything from pizza to ice cream, but it was the hand-rolled soft pretzels that customers couldn't get enough of. Because of the demand, Anne dropped the rest of the products and concentrated on perfecting the pretzel. Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels was born.
Under the leadership of Jonas and Anne, Auntie Anne's grew from a single outlet to more than 950 locations worldwide, with a workforce of more than 10,000. Auntie Anne's, with its international headquarters in Lancaster, PA., is the world's largest hand-rolled soft pretzel chain offering snack and meal options to shoppers and travelers. Today, Auntie Anne's has over 300 franchisees in 20 countries and continues to be recognized for its superior product and service standards. In order to pursue their passion to strengthen families and build community, Auntie Anne's was sold to a private owner in April of 2005.
From their modest beginnings to the notable success of Auntie Anne's, Inc., the Beiler's have become one of the nation's leading entrepreneurs. In 1992, the Beilers founded the Family Resource and Counseling Center, a Christian, non-profit counseling facility which currently employees 24 people. In 2008 the Beilers founded The Family Center of Gap, a 55,000 square foot building created to meet the ever growing needs of the community. Through their time and resources, the Beilers continue to give back to the community they love so much.
The Family Center of Gap also houses numerous partner organizations. Some of those partners include the Salisbury Township Branch Library, Angela's Café, Cornerstone Pregnancy Care Services, Tree of Life Health Ministries, Hildebrandt Learning Centers, Gap Community Church, House on the Rock Family Ministries and Family Resource and Counseling Centers.
The Beilers have always believed in leading by example, doing business with integrity, and giving back to the community. While at Auntie Anne's, they demonstrated their business principles with the acronym, LIGHT: Lead by example; Invest in employees; Give freely; Honor God; and Treat all business contacts with integrity. These principles continue to LIGHT their way as they follow their passion to serve people, strengthen families, and build community.