Our History

Employees working on our old pie line - historyOur rich history at Bama is the foundation upon which everything is built. Our beginning is a tale bursting with driven characters who would not take no for an answer. We often say around the office that our founders embody the American Dream. What they accomplished is evidenced in our unyielding dedication to our employees and to our products. And it makes for a pretty great story, too.

The Bama Pie Company began in the kitchen of Cornelia Alabama Marshall back in the early 20s. In those days Grandma Bama baked sweet potato pies and sold them at the drugstore fountain in Dallas, Texas. Her pies were so famously delicious that people lined up on the sidewalk to get a slice of that mouthwatering pie.

When the Great Depression hit, her husband, Henry, lost his job. The Marshalls knew that selling Alabama’s pies at the corner store wouldn’t be enough to support their seven children.  Henry asked his wife to make smaller pies that he could sell door to door to help support the family. He gathered all of the family’s savings—$1.67—and The Bama Pie Company was born.

In 1931, 16-year-old Paul Marshall, the second youngest of the Marshall children, left high school to work full time as a delivery driver for his parents. During his weekly 227-mile route, Paul immersed himself in the complexities of the pie business. He discovered new ways of doing business, and knew that his ideas would one day allow Bama Pies to be bigger and better than the competition.

In 1935, Paul met and married Lilah. They moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and opened their own local branch of The Bama Pie Company. Together they built a remarkable business and family of their own. Paul and Lilah Marshall were the driving force behind Bama Pie’s success. Paul custom designed most of Bama’s manufacturing equipment and worked closely with key customers to design and sell successful products. Lilah’s strengths included business savvy, financial direction and office management. Together Paul and Lilah took Bama from a strong regional favorite to a national success.

Today, Bama can produce more pies in a single day than Alabama Marshall could have made in a lifetime. However, one guiding principle endures: Consistent Quality. If you want to hear more of Paul’s story and the history of Bama, his book A Piece of the Pie—published in 1987, is available on Amazon.com.

 

“You are seeing the birth of an empire. This humble beginning is the start of a business that will spread to the far reaches of the great state of Texas, and from there to the nation.”

Henry Marshall
Co-Founder of The Bama Companies, Inc.

 

A History of the Tulsa-Based Bama Companies from Bama Companies on Vimeo.

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