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Doughnut hub

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DONUT WORRY, BE HAPPY:DeRozier’s Bakery owner Joe DeRozier cuts dough in preparation for Saturday’s round of baked goods.
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DELIGHTFULLY DELICIOUS: DeRozier’s Bakery brings an array of doughy goodness to several locations across Indiana.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

It’s been nearly three decades since Wisconsin native Joe DeRozier relocated to Peru and turned his bakery into a Miami County staple.

DeRozier’s Bakery, established in 1992, is a doughnut hub of Peru and a place for residents to get a bite to eat and chat with the doughnut man himself.

While DeRozier loves what he does and enjoys having the opportunity to meet new people every day, he didn’t always have dreams of being a baker.

According to DeRozier, after he left the Army, he was hired on at a grocery store and a bakery in the Green Bay area of Wisconsin while he waited for college to begin.

DeRozier had plans to become a teacher, but his plans quickly changed when he began to learn the ins and outs of baking and discovered his passion for the business.

“I thought it was kind of fun,” DeRozier said. “I was enjoying it.”

DeRozier began integrating himself more into the bakery until he became a part owner. Over the years, DeRozier tried to persuade the previous baker to let him purchase the entire business, but he didn’t want to sell.

DeRozier eventually sold his part of the business and set out to purchase his own bakery, which is how he settled down in Peru.

“It was never a plan,” DeRozier said. “Once I started, it was fun because the creativity, the stuff you can make. If it’s an apple fritter, there’s nothing to it. Well, I can change the shape, I can put a different icing on it, and suddenly it’s different.”

DeRozier moved to Peru and opened the bakery 27 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.

The bakery is now mostly a wholesale operation with DeRozier delivering doughnuts to Rochester, Akron, Huntington, Galveston, Marion, Swayzee and many other locations.

“We used to go all the way into Michigan, Illinois and Ohio,” DeRozier said. “After 9/11 with gas prices shooting up I couldn’t pay for it anymore.”

Over the years, DeRozier made several attempts to operate the bakery and the retail space at the front of the building, but he didn’t always have the labor and sometimes the timing just wasn’t right.

“We went back and forth for quite a few years,” DeRozier said. “We did both for a long time.”

He still has his retail license and will sell a dozen doughnuts to individuals who order them ahead of time.

According to DeRozier, his secret to staying in business for so many years is luck. While he works 12 hours seven days a week even on Christmas, a business is all about timing.

“You can have a great plan, you can have a great product and not make it because it’s not the right time for it,” DeRozier said. “I work a lot, but it’s just luck. It really is.”

It’s also because of his long hours that DeRozier has been able to meet so many new people and become so well-known throughout the community.

“Most of the customers are so nice and their so fun to talk to and you get to hear stories from all of them,” DeRozier said. “It’s fun when they tell you a little bit about themselves.”

DeRozier even gives tours of the kitchen to school classes and parents with children who are interested to know what goes on behind the scenes.

“Everyone remembers going to the bakery when they were a kid and they’re kind of curious how it works in the back,” he said. “Anybody that wants to come in can come in.”

DeRozier enjoys all aspects of his job although he hopes to be able to have more days off in the future. Until then, he is having fun visiting with residents, making doughnuts and making people happy.

“I want my donuts to be the best,” DeRozier said. “I really do and I care about the customers and I want them to be happy.”

DeRozier’s Bakery is located at 61 N. Broadway St. behind Aroma Coffee Shop LLC where residents can also stop in for fresh doughnuts.