NEA Outstanding Business of the Year Award
Startup Business award
Entrepreneur Cody McPherson has always loved cookies. It didn’t matter if he was in college or the U.S. Air Force, he would always try to find local mom-and-pop dessert shops that would have their own unique offerings.
He would scour the internet looking for new types and different recipes for his favorite dessert, one that has been a staple since it was invented in Persia during the 7th Century A.D.
When he left the Air Force, McPherson wanted to become a business owner, he told Talk Business & Politics. Crumbl Cookies, a gourmet cookie company that has been rapidly expanding across the U.S. since 2017, caught his eye. He opened the first Crumbl Cookie store in Jonesboro last May.
“I thought it was a very cool concept … I’m a cookie fanatic,” he said. “I wanted to open my own business. This seemed like the right fit.”
McPherson and the Crumbl franchise are the Talk Business & Politics NEA Outstanding Business of the Year Award in the Startup Business Division. The award is presented by QualChoice.
Crumbl was co-founded by cousins Jason McGowan, CEO, and Sawyer Hemsley, COO. The duo spent thousands of dollars developing recipes that did not live up to their expectations, and the cookies they developed were subpar, according to the company’s web site. The cousins began to solicit the public for recipes and ideas, and soon were able to develop their signature chocolate chip cookie.
The first chocolate chip cookie was created in Whitfield, Mass., in 1937. Ruth Graves Wakefield owned the Toll House Restaurant and she made butter drop cookies, from a recipe that dated back to the Colonial era. Once, she didn’t have a bar of baker’s chocolate to make the cookies, so she cut up a bar of semisweet chocolate. She assumed the pieces would melt together during the baking process but they didn’t, and it led to the most popular cookie ever.
The cousins developed several other cookies. Their first store opened in Logan, Utah, in 2017. Customers get the unique experience of watching the cookies be made right in the store. The company reportedly has more than 300 bakeries around the country.
McPherson, 29, grew up in Bryant, and attended Arkansas State University where he met his wife, Kristen. After college, he joined the Air Force and worked several years as a K-9 handler. He was stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, and then was later transferred to Patrick Air Force Base in Melbourne, Fla.
During his service, he was on one of the “sweep teams” looking for improvised explosive devices on or near the runway when Air Force One was slated to land. Former President Donald Trump came to watch the first manned mission from Cape Canaveral in more than a decade to launch from U.S. soil in May 2020.
After his service, McPherson and his wife moved to Jonesboro and decided to open a business. The parent company and other business owners can advise and guide you, but there is no way to replicate the experience of starting a business, he said. He had to do all the legwork when it came to finding a location, acquiring the financing, hiring the employees, and performing every other task big and small that is required. At his Jonesboro store, McPherson has about 60 employees.
McPherson is ready to open his second and maybe third. He and a friend, Aaron Duty, are partnering to open a Crumbl store in North Little Rock. The new store is slated to start operations in early 2023. Another store is in the works, he added.
“We have expectations to grow. We just want to make sure the timing is right,” he said.