Terre Kent and Bill Klar knew each other before they were business partners. Their children went to school together, and they volunteered at similar community events. It was at one of these events, where they manned booths next to each other, that they decided to go into business together.
“We stood side-by-side at a church festival and realized the firefighters needed to have a fundraising item,” Terre says. “So we spoke at this church festival and decided maybe we should start something. And that’s where it started.”
Their company is STF Enterprises. On WisconsinMade Artisan Collective, they’re known for Engine House 19 Chili, Hunters Stew, Jambalaya and Taco Mixes and Pirate Willie’s Rockin’ Rum and Treasure Island Cakes. Both products are made by vendors with Bill and Terre’s recipes in Wisconsin; Terre and Bill manage those vendors and connect them to wholesalers like WisconsinMade Artisan Collective. The rum cake line, however, is only available on WisconsinMade.
“We are business partners and we are the company,” Bill says. “Behind the scenes images are kind of comical because Terre and I are mostly out of our vehicles or our houses.”
“I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years,” Terre says. “I like to start new projects and fill them. Every day when I get up, I’m excited about moving things forward on each project we work on.”
One of Terre and Bill’s projects outside of WisconsinMade is the annual Engine House 19 and Lakefront Brewery Chili Cook-Off in Milwaukee.
“It’s more of a publicity and brand awareness event for us,” Bill says, “but we raise money for some awesome local causes.”
The chili cook-off is held every February at Lakefront Brewery, and they fill the space to capacity. In 2019, the event had 14 teams and 400 attendees. The event donated roughly 2,600 meals into Feeding America Southeast Wisconsin and $2,500 to first responders.
Why their involvement with firefighters and first responders?
“We are friends with many firefighters and police officers,” Terre says. “We come from police officer families, so we thoroughly enjoy working with them when we’re out in the community doing events.”
That focus on the community is what drew Terre and Bill to WisconsinMade Artisan Collective. They had been looking for similar companies to sell through, and WisconsinMade’s promotion of local artisans and local businesses was compelling for them.
“Why not promote Wisconsin products?” Terre says.
Their most popular products on WisconsinMade are their rum cakes, which are handmade in Milwaukee and shipped anywhere in the United States. According to Terre and Bill, their most popular cake is the German Chocolate with Caramel Vodka. During the holiday season, the Chocolate Mint Liqueur Cake is a popular item for WisconsinMade’s corporate customers.
For anyone looking for some creativity for the product, Terre recommends turning the rum cakes in to a delicious breakfast item: French toast!
“You take your piece of cake you put it in your egg batter and then you put it on the griddle and cook it just like you would French toast,” she says. “You cook it like you do French toast. Then you add a little powder sugar. It makes awesome French toast.”