By Amelia Rose Smith
Cordia Harrington, nicknamed “the Bun Lady,” is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Crown Bakeries, headquartered just down the street in Brentwood. With 2022 marking twenty-five years in business, Crown Bakeries boasts $100 million-plus in revenue, according to Forbes.com. Most recently, Cordia was named in the top 100 of Forbes 2022 America’s Richest Self-Made Women list. Without further ado, the businesswoman behind it all… Introducing Cordia Harrington!
How long have you lived in Williamson County? What is it about WC that makes it feel like home to you?
I moved to Williamson County in 1996 to build the first bakery to serve McDonald’s buns, Tennessee Bun Company (now known as Crown Bakeries). My three sons were in elementary and junior high. The town we moved from was Effingham, Illinois, with fewer than 10,000 people. Before that, we lived in Russellville, Arkansas with a population of 12,000 people…small towns…where you knew everyone. Moving to Franklin gave us the comfort of the small town feel we were used to. We love seeing neighbors at the grocery and the very friendly restaurant servers. We felt and continue to feel, very welcome by the genuine SOUTHERN hospitality found here!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My spare time is filled with travel, bike riding, reading and mentoring business people.
Where is your favorite place to go in Williamson County and why?
My favorite place in Williamson County is our home and neighborhood, Lynnwood Downs. Every single day I drive into the neighborhood, I feel grateful to live here…horses in the pasture and big trees, peaceful and beautiful…but close to every possible restaurant and store. My husband, Tom, and I have traveled the world, and we believe Williamson County is the most fantastic place to live! We are proud to call it our home.
What is your business, and how did you get into it?
My business is a bakery business. In Illinois, I owned and operated McDonald’s Restaurants. As a franchise, I was invited to the “Bun Committee,” where we audited our bun supplier, Fresh Start Bakery in Kansas City. I loved learning about sesame seeds in Guatemala and flour prices in Russia and wanted to know all I could about that business. When I learned McDonald’s needed additional capacity, I knew it was for me! So, in 1996, I built a bakery that makes 1,000 buns a minute in Dickson, Tennessee, starting with thirty-two employees. Today, we operate nine facilities and have over 1,700 associates.
What keeps you motivated?
I am motivated when I can create opportunities and make a difference…impacting lives positively. My business has given me great opportunities to do so!
What organizations are you involved with?
Presently, I am on the Board of Trustees of Belmont University, which I absolutely love! For this year and next, I am President of the American Bakers Association, Washington D.C., The Reves Institute, Naples, FL, and a Jurist on Ken Burns American Prairie. In addition, my husband, Tom, and I are serving as Chairs for the Heritage Foundation Ball in October.