The Makers: Brandon and Jordan Greer
Kettle Bros, Attalla
Although they occasionally flipped burgers or steaks on the grill, the Greer brothers said the kitchen was never their domain until they started making and selling kettle corn last fall. Now, 13 months later, their products are “poppin’ off” the shelves at grocery stores throughout central Alabama.
Brandon first stumbled on the idea of selling kettle corn while searching for new business opportunities.
“I was looking for something I could do that would have low startup costs, and popcorn came to mind,” Brandon said. “One afternoon, I went into our kitchen and started popping popcorn and trying different kinds of drizzles on it. When my wife and kids tried it, they said, ‘This is so good.’ The more the kids asked for it, the more I thought this could really work.”
Brandon invited Jordan to partner with him in the new venture, and Kettle Bros was born.
The brothers’ first move was to carve out their own niche. With many popcorn companies on the market, they decided kettle corn, which combines sweet and salty flavors, would offer an alternative.
The distinguishing ingredient in kettle corn, Jordan said, is sugar, which is added while the kernels are popping. The corn is then sprinkled with salt to give it that “savory” touch.
“Our biggest hurdle has been that people think we’re just making flavored popcorn. But the sugar kind of gives it an extra kick,” Jordan said. “When people try it, they say, ‘That’s amazing.’ It’s so much fun to see their faces light up when they try it.”
Before their business opened in downtown Attalla in October 2015, the brothers spent several months in Brandon’s home kitchen testing toppings and trying them out on family and neighbors. They sold their products at fairs and festivals to gauge response from the crowds.
After the testing period, the Greers narrowed their focus to four flavors: Cookies and Cream, Cinnamon Roll, Heavenly Cake and Smokin’ White Cheddar. They also offer seasonal flavors, such as White Chocolate Peppermint and Candy Corn, in limited quantities.
“There are endless possibilities, but we don’t want to overwhelm people by having too many options,” Brandon said. “We want to be able to do four flavors better than anybody else, and then we can branch out and add new flavors as we get bigger.”
The business has grown more rapidly than the brothers dreamed possible. Their kettle corn is available in Birmingham at Piggly Wiggly, Western Supermarket and Publix grocery stores, as well as at numerous smaller shops across central Alabama. Their long-term goal, Brandon said, is to sell their gourmet popcorn at grocery stores across the Southeast.
The brothers are reaching out to the community, and have donated bags of kettle corn for fundraisers hosted by schools and Lifeline Children’s Services, a Birmingham adoption agency that is near to their heart. Brandon and his wife, Meredith, adopted their daughter, Ella, through this organization.
In addition to overseeing their new company, the brothers have full-time jobs, making their lives a balancing act.
“When we first started, it was easy to do things from home,” Brandon said. “But as we’ve grown, managing our time has been a challenge.”
“We’ve worked a lot of long nights and a lot of weekends making popcorn,” added Jordan. “The business keeps getting bigger and bigger. We are trying to get in grocery stores throughout Alabama and then we hope to branch out across state lines. We’re taking it as far as it will go.”
Kettle Bros is truly a family operation. Brandon oversees the financial and operations side of the business, while Jordan is in charge of marketing and promoting the product, and building the brand.
Other family members, including the brothers’ parents and wives, pitch in to help with everything from popping corn and making deliveries to stuffing bags and slapping labels on them. There’s even a playroom at the shop for the brothers’ children, who range in age from 10 years to 3 months old.
“I never thought in a million years I’d have a popcorn factory,” Brandon said. “I’m not a cook, but I love making popcorn. The challenge of getting a product out there that’s perfect is just fun. Putting in the time to get things right and seeing people like it has been the rewarding part.”
- Gourmet Popcorn Gift Package: $25
- White Chocolate Peppermint kettle corn: $7
Kettle Bros Gourmet Kettle Corn, Attalla, www.kettlebros.com
Click here (www.kettlebros.com) to purchase the gourmet kettle corn or for a list of stores that carry it.