ABOVE: Cordia Harrington // Photo courtesy The Bakery Cos.
By VINCE TROIA
As one of the most successful female business owners in the country, who created a multi-million-dollar venture with less than $600 in her pocket, Cordia Harrington surely has earned a better title that ‘The Bun Lady.’
However, when asked if she liked that nickname, she replied, “I do. I think it’s a hoot.”
Harrington may share that story and many others when she speaks at the Bellevue Harpeth Chamber Luncheon on June 20 at the Temple Hills Country Club, 6376 Temple Road.
“We are thrilled,” said Amy Napoli, CEO of Bellevue Harpeth Chamber. “We have been trying to land her as a keynote speaker for more than two years.”
One could forgive the delay, considering Harrington has a busy schedule, continually growing and expanding her business and her brand. As CEO and founder of The Bakery Cos. (formerly Tennessee Bun Company), she oversees a highly automated, high-speed baking company whose more than 500 employees bake more than 7 million goods daily.
The Bakery Cos. is one of the largest female-owned businesses in Nashville with revenues in excess of $100 million annually. The company supplies buns, muffins, and biscuits to 400 businesses, including McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, KFC, Five Guys, and O’Charleys.
The company’s processing plant runs 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and produces 1 billion biscuits and buns annually.
And to think the self-made entrepreneur Harrington earned her nickname back in 1996 when she launched Tennessee Bun Company in Nashville making “only” 1,000 buns per minute.
Over the years, Harrington expanded with a packaging facility (Nashville Bun Company, 1999), an English muffin griddle (2001), the 85,000-square foot cold storage facility (2005), a frozen dough line and a biscuit line (2007 and 2009), the purchase of the artisan Masada Bakery (2014), and an international venture in Guatemala City (2018).
It was in 2015 that Harrington realized she had more than a ‘bun’ company and the firm’s name became The Bakery Companies.
The chamber luncheon will run 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m., on Thursday, June 20. Sponsored by The Lodge at Natchez Trace, admission is $30 for Chamber members; $45 for non-members. Guests can register online at www.bellevueharpethchamber.com
The luncheon, highlighted by Harrington’s inspirational and educational presentation, also will include installation of Chamber officers for the coming board year.
An Arkansas native, Harrington, now has her corporate office in Green Hills. She and her husband, Tom, live in Franklin.
Harrington graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree. Here she became involved with Belmont University, where she serves on its Board of Trustees.
In fact, the university in 2016 unveiled Harrington Place Dining, a 950-seat cafeteria on campus, in her honor.
“The success of our family’s businesses over the years is a testament to the power of unwavering optimism, a tireless work ethic and perseverance that just doesn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer,” she said at the unveiling. “I believe these values are central to any entrepreneurial effort.”
Under Harrington’s leadership, The Bakery Cos. has received myriad awards, and last year she was inducted into the American Society of Baking Hall of Fame. She has been recognized by numerous other organizations for her commitment to excellence and entrepreneurial spirit.