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40: Dori Ross Creates a Sweet New Product Line

Maple syrup is part of Dori Ross’s Canadian birthright. She grew up on a farm in rural Ontario, where tapping trees was simply a weekend hobby. After a twenty plus year career in marketing, when Dori moved to Vermont she couldn’t contain her passion for maple. She found herself tapping her Vermont trees with her three kids, who would run off the school bus every day to check the taps. Then they’d spill three quarters of the sap while running with full buckets up to the house. (Keep in mind it takes over 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!) Fortunately, this was not yet a business. It was just fun.

It seemed inevitable that any food business Dori started would involve maple. But instead of tapping her own trees and selling the maple syrup, Dori realized that she wanted to use her marketing experience to help hardworking sugar makers and to elevate the status of maple, which is a true luxury food.

So she teamed up with local sugar makers in the Mad River Valley. They supply her with single-source syrup, some of which she sells. The rest gets delivered to a group of local Vermont artisan candy-makers, who transform the liquid staple into solid and truly unique goodies in the Tonewood line – a maple cube, maple cream and maple flakes.

Her Philosophy

  • Keep things really focused and rework things all the time to drill down.  Keep it simple.

Her Advice to Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

  • Don’t be afraid of taking risks. Everyone just has to realize that they’re not alone. It’s scary for anyone that takes this job if they feel fearful. That’s OK because it is a scary thing to do.
  • Jump off that cliff and and do it because you’ll regret not doing it you won’t regret failure because at least you took a risk.


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