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Investments in Employees Improves Them and Improves Retention

With the help of: Kansas Manufacturing Solutions


Dot’s Pretzels was founded more than a decade ago in North Dakota by Dot Henke in her home kitchen. With a production facility in Lenexa, Kansas, today the brand is the fastest-growing offering in the pretzel category, responsible for 55% of the segment’s growth during the past year. Sales for Dot’s, the third-largest pretzel brand by market share, is concentrated in the Central and Western U.S., and the brand has a strong presence in food, grocery and convenience stores. Much of its growth comes from word of mouth, and the brand has rarely spent money to market itself. Dot’s also is popular with shoppers who try the product, with 56% returning to buy it again. 

The Challenge

Recently brought under the Hershey brand, Dot’s Pretzels is experiencing an enormous amount of growth. Like many other manufacturers in Kansas and throughout the United States, Dot’s Pretzels is constantly looking for employees to become a part of their team in the Lenexa, KS. Those employees, especially those qualified for supervisory roles, are limited and the competition for these individuals is high. 

Another challenge Dot’s Pretzels is concerned about relative to workforce is retaining existing employees. With the labor market so tight for experienced talent, manufacturers must examine methods to keep their employees engaged, happy, and feeling valued. Other businesses are working hard to lure away key manufacturing employees for their own labor pool.

Emerging Leaders is driving our employees to succeed. Their entrepreneurial spirit and 'can-do' approach is radically transforming teams that have lacked structure and direction to ones that are prepared to lead us into the future.

— Angie Martin, Continuous Improvement Manager

MEP's Role

Kansas Manufacturing Solutions, part of the MEP National Network™, owns and operates a manufacturing network called Kansas City Manufacturing Network (KCMN). This association helps manufacturing industry professionals connect, learn and grow through networking, education and sharing best practices. Dot’s Pretzels became a member of this organization in February of 2020. As a member, Dot’s Pretzels has been able to take advantage of a program available exclusively to KCMN members and their employees called Emerging Leaders. The Emerging Leaders program’s coursework was created based on the input and recommendations of manufacturers. The program consists of three tiers of classes that provide frontline employees supervisory skills training, including such topics as communication, time management, critical thinking, delegation, and unconscious bias. Not only does an employee’s participation in this program show an employee that their company is willing to invest in their personal development, it helps to prepare them for future promotional opportunities. 

Created December 6, 2022, Updated October 13, 2023