The journey to the launch of this business was rather unusual. Many years ago, a popcorn company existed in Southeast Nebraska. Due to personal decisions the family that owned the company shuttered the business. They maintained ownership of the processing facility and the trademarked names but ceased all manufacturing operations.
Bob Kinghorn is the Director of Southeast Nebraska Developmental Services, an agency that assists individuals with disabilities. After reviewing the former popcorn business and facility, Kinghorn determined that it could be reopened and turned into a viable business. The business could also provide employment opportunities for many of the individuals assisted by the agency.
Kinghorn first contacted the original owners of the company to discuss purchasing the manufacturing facility and company names. After securing their willingness to proceed, Kinghorn contacted the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center, a partner of the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Kinghorn and the company business manager, Sonia Kistner, participated in the Center’s nationally recognized Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program (FEAP). Through FEAP they received assistance with all aspects of developing the business, including product development, business development, packaging and labeling, and marketing tool development.
Kinghorn worked with business staff and food scientists at The Food Processing Center to launch the business. Staff provided assistance in product development, sourcing ingredients, selecting packaging, creating a label in compliance with federal regulation, creating marketing materials, and consulting on a variety of small business issues.
“With this assistance, Kernal Krazy Popcorn was established and began selling its products early in 2007. The company successfully manufactures and sells popcorn and provides part-time employment to ten individuals with disabilities who live in the area. The company also employes four additional part-time staff members.
In the first year of business the company grossed approximately $15,000. The company business plan includes expanding the sales area and adding new popcorn flavors to the product lines.
Through the assistance provided by The Food Processing Center and the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the state of Nebraska has added a new business, which has positively impacted economic growth and job creation. As the company expands and adds new products in the future, revenue will grow and additional jobs will be created.
“Services provided by the MEP Food Processing Center greatly helped us achieve our goal of starting a food manufacturing business. They provided invaluable consultation and resources throughout every step of business development.”
Kernal Krazy Popcorn