NashvilleBusiness.Net 100 Leading Women 2018: Cordia Wilkinson Harrington

Cordia Wilkinson Harrington is an entrepreneur who has excelled in manufacturing, transportation, the quick service restaurant segment, and real estate and construction.

Harrington is owner & founder of The Bakery Cos., which bakes over 7 million baked goods daily and employs more than 500 people, serving elite customers in the United States, Caribbean and South America. In addition, her businesses include Bakery Express (trucking) and Cold Storage of Nashville (a freezer facility). Harrington’s focus on regulations, sustainability, employee policies and development have led the company to grow organically into a state-of-the-art business, winning Wholesale Bakery of the Year in 2010, McDonald’s Supplier Leadership Award (2012) and Nashville Business Journal’s Best in Business Award (2017) and Fast 50 Award (2016). Harrington’s passion for innovation, sponsorship of human resources best practices and ability to deliver on innovative strategy have earned respect in an industry based in conventional practices. Elite customers include McDonald’s, O’Charley’s, Whole Foods, ConAgra and others.

Harrington’s past entrepreneurial enterprises include an award-winning real estate and construction company opened in 1981 and sold to Coldwell Bankers in 1989. In 1989 Harrington graduated from McDonald’s Hamburger University as a registered applicant and purchased a McDonald’s franchise. Proving her ability to lead and motivate, Harrington earned the opportunity to build two additional McDonald’s restaurants. With the addition of a Greyhound Bus franchise to the McDonald’s complex, Harrington served over 80 buses per day, increasing restaurant sales to top 40 in the United States.
In addition to building profitable restaurants, Harrington served as Chairman of Purchasing for the St. Louis Region and as Chairman of the Missouri-Kansas Bun Committee. In these roles, she negotiated pricing protocols, audited distribution centers and bakeries and communicated policies between McDonald’s owner/operators.

Along with impeccable business ethics, Harrington has leadership experience with community, business and civic boards. She served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Nashville Branch from 2008-2013. She is a member of the Chief Executives Organization Board of Directors (President-Elect), Nashville Entrepreneur Center Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Lottery Board. She is President-Elect for the American Bakers Association Board of Directors.
Harrington served on the board of Williams Food, an $88M business, until it was sold. Her six-year involvement included recruiting talent, strategic planning and divesture of Williams subsidiary Wolferman’s to Harry & David. She assisted in the structured sale of the remainder of the business to C.H. Guenther & Sons. She was appointed to the Zoës Kitchen Board of Directors in 2015.

Harrington has been recognized in dozens of local and national media outlets for her commitment to excellence, enthusiasm and business savvy. Most recently, she received the Most Admired CEO Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nashville Business Journal. In 2016, Harrington was named Johnson Fellow by the University of Arkansas, awarded the Excellence in Entrepreneurship award by Millikin University, and inducted into the YWCA’s Academy of Women of Achievement. Harrington was named to the list of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses (Women President’s Organization) in 2016 and was the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Southeast Program) in 2015. She was also named Most Admired CEO by the Nashville Business Journal in both 2013 and 2015.

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