Women-owned companies are just like those owned by men, which is to say some are big, some are small, some are well-known and some aren’t. Recently the Women Presidents’ Organization and American Express took note of some larger ones in their 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies list, which included Nashville’s Cordia Harrington and her The Bakery Cos.
Companies on the list were ranked according to a sales-growth formulary that combined percentage and absolute growth. The 50 companies ranked generated a combined $7.2 billion in 2016 revenues, and employed 46,000 people.
For its part, The Bakery Cos. was singled out in part for having gross revenue that went from $58,641,000 to $90,180,000 in just the past two years, list officials say. Harrington, who rose a spot to No. 42 on this year’s list, has been on the national radar for more than 20 years. She launched the Tennessee Bun Company in 1996, spun a trucking business to carry products to customers a few years later, and has continued to expand her bread-making empire.
In addition to television and magazine profiles, she’s also picked up honors from FAST Company, the National Association of Women Business Owners and other organizations. Her company, which has more than 500 employees, now stretches across factories in Middle Tennessee, Norcross, Georgia, and, soon, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
“There’s been a lot going on with us these last couple of years, primarily diversifying to add new products, which in turn has opened up new markets,” Harrington says. By expanding production lines and capabilities to add things like cinnamon rolls, focaccia bread and organic loaf bread, she’s become the marketplace-bread vendor for Walmart. But even with such a marquee client, she says she’s a small business owner at heart.