The Roots of This Family Business Reach Back to the Original Popcorn Machine The Cretor family has been in the snack business well over a hundred years and is reasing a new generation to continue the legacy.

By Daphne Mallory

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Cornfields, Inc. is a family owned and operated healthy snack manufacturer and producer of the G.H. Cretors and Hi I'm Skinny brands. Claire Cretors is the president of the company and her mom Phyllis is the CEO. Her husband, J.B. Weiler, is the executive V.P. of sales. Annie Bailey is Claire's sister and the Midwest sales manager, and Annie's husband, Jeff Bailey, is the IT director. The family business' roots go as far back as Claire's great-great-grandfather, Charles Cretors, who invented the popcorn machine in 1885.

Overcoming tragedy to build legacy.

George Henry Cretors, Claire's father, founded the family business in 1991. He was the great-grandson of Charles Cretors. When George Henry passed away in 2004, Phyllis came out of retirement to lead the business, and Claire left her job at a DC-based consulting firm to join the Company. Claire explains, "Our family was faced with the loss of my father and I didn't hesitate for a moment to come home and help. I was motivated to not only sustain but build upon my father's legacy."

Related: 9 Essentials for Any Family Business to Thrive

Claire began by learning about all aspects of the business, including manufacturing and finance. A few years later, she took over as president and helped spearhead the launch of G.H. Cretors (named after her dad), the company's first direct-to-consumer brand. The energy of her team and employees helped her grow into the position.

Learning to adapt.

One of the myths associated with family businesses is that founders and the leaders who follow are resistant to change. Claire is not resistant to change, and being able to adapt is one of the keys to her success. She says, "Given the changing competitive landscape, dynamic retail environment, and ever-evolving consumer base, we need to try to anticipate these changes and be flexible, nimble, and open-minded in our approach."

Adapting to change has helped Claire grow her family business and she is not afraid to go against the status quo.

Balancing business with family.

One of the difficulties of running a family business is setting boundaries and spending quality time with your family. "Work can be difficult to 'shut off'. Most professionals make home a work-free zone. We don't have that luxury," she explains. Claire and J.B. face struggles that are similar to most working couples who have a family, except they also spend time with other family members at the office. Before J.B. joined the family business, he and Claire spent months discussing and evaluating the pros and cons. They had honest conversations and recommend that other couples do the same.

Related: Business and Family Are All in a Day's Work For These Dynamic CEO Moms
"Despite our demanding roles and the inevitable craziness that ensues as a result, J.B. and I really try to prioritize time as a family. We make it a point to eat dinner together every night with our children and talk to them about their day or have them taste-taste some new products we're considering launching."

After the kids go to bed, they're able to do more work. Claire explained that it hasn't been easy, but being able to support each other through the tough patches has been rewarding.

Family business makes a difference.

Claire explained that her industry is engaged and interested in the fact that that the company is a family business, and it drives sales. Sharing their business as a family business helps customers to feel as though they are also a part of the family. Running a family business also makes a difference in their community. They support many local charities and the local "movie in the park nights," where they supply the popcorn.

Clarie and J.B. are developing the family business mindset in their children, who are still very young. They are proof that it is possible to incorporate young children in the family business, in a healthy way. Their children are taste testers and are always ready to give honest and unadulterated feedback. Claire says, "I can assure you that almost everything that we have launched is 'kid-approved!'"

Related: How to Divorce-Proof Your Company

Wavy Line
Daphne Mallory

Daphne Mallory Foundation

Daphne Mallory, Esq. is best known for sharing smart ideas to solve problems. Whether on television, on stage, in the boardroom, or before governments, her speeches and seminars are interactive and rich in content.

Billboard Magazine described Mallory as "Engaging Fans, forging a new path." She appeared on ABC, FOX and NBC and in Entrepreneur Magazine, Essence, Brown Alumni Magazine, Self and more. She hosts a TV show: Family Business with Daphne on KSAW-ABC.

Mallory's training programs include Women & Family Business, Grow Community/ Grow Profits, Grow Community/Grow Memberships, Roadmap to Family Business, and Sales Training for Change Agents.

Editor's Pick

'Catastrophic': Here's What You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling Crisis — And How a Default Could Impact Your Business
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.

Business News

7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

A new report by U.S. News found that San Diego is the most expensive city to live in for 2023-2024, followed by Los Angeles. New York City didn't even rank in the top 10.

Money & Finance

3 Ways to Create Multiple (Big) Streams of Income

Here are three ways to create multiple streams of income. These strategies require effort and resources but offer significant financial potential.


'That '70s Show' Star Convicted on Two Counts of Rape. He 'Drugged' His Victims.

Danny Masterson was accused of forcibly raping three women at different times between 2001 and 2003. The jury reached a verdict on two counts but was deadlocked on the third.


12 Good Reasons to Explain Why You Left a Job During an Interview

Not sure what to say when asked why you left your last job? Check out these reasons so that you have a great answer on your next interview.

Business News

Raccoon Adorably Orders A Donut From Dunkin' Drive Thru: 'Little Gentleman'

The hilarious clip has garnered over 21.3 million views on TikTok.