Plenty of people have fond memories of a favorite treat made by their mothers while they were growing up. But Rod Cross loved his mom’s Bundt cakes so much they became the basis of his career reinvention.
The North Little Rock native and current Sherwood resident first started selling his Bundtz by Rod cakes part time about five years ago, before launching the business full-time in January 2020. The initial impetus was to return the favor to his mother without having to make the 45-minute drive to her usual provider, but he has since grown his business to making over 30 different flavors, including nine variations with alcohol.
“She didn’t think I could do it, so I took it as a personal challenge,” recalls Cross. “She used to bake all the time with cakes, pies, cookies, you name it. And as a kid, I would just sit at the counter waiting for her to pull out the batter because I could always have the leftovers.
“She loved my cake so much she shared it with her friends, and one after another asked me to make one for them too, until I asked one if they thought I could make money doing this. And they said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Cross’ remarkable menu includes the “5 flavor pound” (consisting of almond, butter, coconut, lemon and vanilla) and “Snickers” and “Reese’s” Bundts. There are also 13 variations with “spirits” ranging from apple, caramel and vanilla Crown Royal flavors to seven types of rum cakes. All cakes can be made in a requested assortment of shapes thanks to Rod’s eclectic array of baking pans.
Sales have grown so fast that orders now take 7-10 business days (Mondays to Fridays) to process, and Cross’ customer base has grown to include an extensive amount of orders that are shipped around the country. Locally, he serves as his own delivery driver within a 25-mile radius for the cakes, which are priced at $30 and $35 for non-alcoholic cakes with an additional $5 charge for the alcohol-infused flavors. Among his stops are several Little Rock-area restaurants that sell his creations.
All cakes are made to order, meaning there are no cakes “on hand,” and he provides email confirmations on all orders when they’re taken and ready to deliver or ship. Thanks to his exceptional time-management skills, he has made as many as 18 cakes in one day, writing personal thank you notes that go with every order.
While he is hard-pressed to pick his own favorite cake, drawing comparison to how parents can’t pick a favorite child, he admits a particular love for his lemon-flavored cake.
“I have a couple of locations I make them in, some at home and some in a commercial kitchen I have access to,” he explains. “Time management is key to all of this, because I am a team of one. In my previous career, I was a corporate human resources recruiter and also spent 14 years in the armed forces, so I have skill sets that lend themselves well for me to be able to manage all aspects of the job.”
While he even handles his own public relations, Cross says that an appearance on the Sirius XM hip-hop show hosted by Sway Calloway was instrumental in his establishing a nationwide footprint. He was a social media friend and follower of Calloway’s cohost Heather B, who invited him to phone into the show one day to talk about his cakes, “and the rest is history” as she has kept on talking about his treats regularly on air.
“It keeps me extremely busy, but what I found out is it is a passion of mine, and there’s a saying that if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, then you never work a day in your life.”