Rustic Crust: The Little Company That Could… and DID!Rieva Lesonsky
Helping people is all in a day’s work for Sterl, who has always been committed to giving back to his community. “We do a lot of fundraisers and events,” he says. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he loaded his pizza truck with 1,000 pizzas and fed 2,500 people. In South Carolina, he brought pizzas to disabled veterans for the Wounded Warrior project; in Boston, he supplied pizza for a fundraiser after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. “Any time we can get out to a group and share our products or fund-raise, we do,” he says. “It’s just the right thing to do, and something that any business should be doing.”
After the fire, Sterl’s community involvement was paid back and then some. “We got a bunch of letters from people telling us how much we had done for the community,” Sterl recalls. “People were sending us $100 checks to help [us rebuild]! The community really embraced us.” Relationships with bankers and construction firms in the area helped him get a loan quickly and speed the rebuilding process.
Continuing his community commitments, at the August 2014 groundbreaking of the new building, the company started a national campaign, The Rustic Crust First Responders Recognition program, to support and acknowledge these service workers across the nation. Rustic Crust and American Flatbread frozen pizzas will donate products to state first responder organizations to assist with fundraisers and other events, and continue sending its mobile pizza truck to natural disaster sites to feed emergency workers.
Above all, Sterl credits Rustic Crust’s recovery to two factors: his employees (“I couldn’t have done it without them”) and his entrepreneurial spirit. “As an entrepreneur, everyone tries to knock you down,” he says. “Having that entrepreneurial drive is a tremendous asset.”
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