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.

learn more about Daphne Mallory

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

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.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business Solutions

Learn to Build a ChatGPT Bot for Only $30

If you want to see what AI can do for your business, grab this course bundle today.

Health & Wellness

5 Essential Steps to Expand Your Vision and Start Living Your Dream Life

It's time to break free from your comfort zone and expand your vision. When you refuse to settle for a mediocre life, you can start building a life you love.

Business News

I'm a Former Google Recruiter. Here's How to Land a Job in Tech — and What Can Blow Your Interview

A former Google recruiter says layoffs may be trendy, but tech workers are always needed. Here's how to land a job at a major tech company.

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.