Dankies KettleKorn – Pop This!

Albert Allison, a Haworth College of Business MBA student and co-owner of the San Diego-based kettle corn company, Dankies KettleKorn, has a lot on his plate. In addition to taking classes, he is helping his business partner run their company from across the country – all while learning more about how to improve and expand their business through his MBA program.

Dankies is a wholesale and retail kettle corn company that sells products at special events like concerts, festivals and sporting events. The company’s interesting distribution strategy shies away from the traditional brick and mortar store, offering some interesting opportunities to market a food that could easily be classified as a commodity. The business uses one-on-one interaction and relies heavily on this direct feedback to grow the business. Allison admits that not many people can name their favorite brand of kettle corn (except for people in San Diego that is!) but offers this explanation, “Customers are willing to pay for any brand that ties the sugary smell of freshly cooked popcorn to a positive emotional experience. What separates our events from others is that we support the needs and wants of the key decision makers – primarily the people who ask questions about our process and want to know more about how Dankies makes the finest kettle corn.”

Those interactions, along with fresh, handcrafted batches, made with all-American ingredients, have helped Dankies KettleKorn grow from a fun weekend side business to a full-blown business.

As far as running the company, Allison and his business partner split up the duties across the country. Allison focuses on bookkeeping and payroll while his partner runs day-to-day operations in San Diego. Does this pose some challenges? Sure. But the two understand the importance of continuous education, and Allison is truly enjoying his time at the Haworth College of Business.

“Coming to WMU, I have had the pleasure of networking with students and faculty involved in the sales and business marketing industry as well as the consumer package goods industry.  It has been a fantastic experience to see the passion and brilliance of people dedicated to career paths that I have always considered the heart and soul of the Dankies KettleKorn operation.”

In terms of “success,” Allison tries to redefine the word for himself and his employees. He reminds them that running a business is about more than just profits; it is about the intrinsic reward of achieving more through personal and professional growth.  “People can achieve that success only when they are confident in their company’s triple bottom line, economic, social and environmental areas,” says Allison.

Starting a new business can be extremely intimidating, but he encourages others to blaze their own trails and learn through experience, noting that there is not always a clear cut path to reach the desired business result and sometimes that means writing your own rules.

“When all else fails, just do it,” Allison states.  “There may not be a perfect opportunity for someone to start a business, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.  My business partner and I were looking for ways to make money on the weekends. It started as a fun side business and has grown beyond our greatest imaginations with hard work and focus on slow and steady growth.”

Bronco Alert: Albert Allison is a second generation Bronco.  His father, Albert Allison, BBA ’71, MBA ’77, is active with the College of Business and with WMU.

Editor: Cindy Wagner
Haworth College of Business
2100 Schneider Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamzoo MI 49008-5457 USA
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