Kathy Taggares, founder and chief executive of KT’s Kitchens Inc., thinks of her private label and contract-packing frozen pizza company in terms of pies-per-minute.
“I always think in terms of minutes — we are always analyzing things by the minute around here,” Taggares said during a recent Business Journal visit to the company’s offices and production plant in Carson. “KT’s Kitchens produces 500 small pizzas a minute. If we are making a 12-inch pizza, it’s 200 a minute.”
Although you won’t see the Taggares name on the label, you’ve likely tasted the product in numerous frozen pizza brands you’ll find on supermarket shelves or perhaps at Costco Wholesale Corp. outlets.
The company also supplies frozen pizzas for schools and other institutions nationwide. Taggares said the hottest trend in pizza is gluten-free, vegetable-based crusts made of cauliflower or sweet potato.
It took a lot of crust for Taggares to launch the company 32 years ago as a supplier of dressings and dips for Big Boy Restaurants International.
“We started in 1987 with no money,” Taggares said. “It was just my key employees and me, who are all still here by the way. Many of them have been here since the beginning, so more than 30 years.”
Pizzas became part of the product menu in 1988. Now Taggares said the company has about 300 employees, most of whom work on the line making the pies. The company sold its dressings and sauces business earlier this year.
Taggares said she has no plans to retire because her pizza business funds her passion for her volunteer work with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, specifically regarding spaying and neutering.
In August, Taggares donated $1.75 million to the ASPCA to support the organization’s spay and neuter programs in Los Angeles.
“I am a pizza-maker to make money, to utilize the money I am making toward animal suffering,” said Taggares. “To me, animal suffering is all about overpopulation.”
Taggares prefers to spend money on things that matter, and office decor is not one of them. Company offices are plain and functional, with homey photos of employee birthdays and babies taking the place of designer furniture or high-end art.
“I even had someone come in and say to me once, ‘We love coming to your offices because we can see you spend no money on your office,’” Taggares joked. “‘We like that because (it means) you are spending your money on your plant.’”
Taggares does like to have fun with personal fashion, however. “I like to dress up,” she asserted. “My trademark is long earrings. I always have long feather earrings or some sort of bizarre earrings on.” When it comes to clothes, “everything’s really fitted with bright colors.”
And, added Taggares, “I am going to keep rockin’ high heels as long as I can.”