May 3, 2015
When John and Pat Roth married in 1953, they operated a dairy farm near Cadott. Three years later, they started tapping 200 maple trees on their 120 acres of timber to collect sap and make syrup as a side business to their dairy operation.
By 1963, the young couple was milking 35 cows on their dairy farm and they were handling 1,500 gallons of syrup each year that they produced.
They collected sap and made maple syrup from the middle of March through the middle to end of April. The rest of the year, they were busy selling their syrup through outlets in Wisconsin Dells and throughout southern Wisconsin.
SWEET SUCCESS: Three generations of the Roth family work together at Roth Sugarbush Inc., at their new retail store and warehouse. From left are Pete Roth, Kellen and Sam O'Connell and Pat and John Roth. Missing from the photo is Pete's wife Dawn.
Their hard work paid off. By 1963, their income from the syrup business nearly equaled what they were making on the dairy farm. The Roths were featured in the May 4, 1963, issue of Wisconsin Agriculturist magazine.
What began as a small family operation on the farm has grown well beyond what John and Pat ever imagined. By 1974, the Roths started selling syrup processing equipment. Today, the Roth family taps 12,000 trees of their own on 520 acres and they purchase sap from 5,000 more trees tapped by other producers. They produce 5,500 gallons of maple syrup every year.
In January 2014, Roth Sugarbush Inc., opened a large new retail store located on Tower Drive off Highways 27 and 29 in Cadott where they sell their maple syrup, equipment and supplies. They also have a large catalog and they take orders over the phone and online.
"We sell syrup making equipment year round," John says. "We are the largest syrup handling equipment dealers in Wisconsin. We have customers in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Alaska."
MAKING SYRUP: Pete Roth boils sap in an evaporator at Roth Sugarbush Inc.
Their customers range from hobbyist to the commercial producers.
In 1995, John and Pat sold their syrup business to their son Pete and his wife Dawn. They sold their dairy farm to their son Mike in 1993.
Now in their 80s, John and Pat still live in a house on the dairy farm and remain active helping most days with the syrup business.
Pete and Dawn's daughter Sam and her husband Kellen O'Connell began working full-time in the syrup business five years ago. In addition to six family members working in the syrup business, the Roths also have four full-time employees and two seasonal employees.
"We do service, we do installs and we make maple syrup," Pete says. "We stay busy all year."
It still takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup -- the same as it did when John and Pat started making syrup 60 years ago.
"Back then, we used to process 10 gallons of syrup an hour," John says. "Now we process 100 gallons of syrup an hour."
New equipment and technology allows for a shorter processing time.
"We separate out 90% of the water before we boil the sap using the reverse osmosis," Kellen explains. "It's a lot faster."
While they still 100% real maple syrup in their store, the majority of Roth Sugarbush syrup is sold in bulk, mainly 55-gallon drums.
The first full weekend of February, the Roths hold a four-day open house at their new store. This year, more than 1,500 people attended the open house.
To learn more about Roth Sugarbush or to purchase 100% real maple syrup online, visit their website at www.rothsugarbush.com or call 715-289-3665.
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