Hawthorne, the CEO of Golden Krust, has written a book called The Baker’s Son chronicling his journey growing up in the rural parish of Saint Andrew in the island of Jamaica, to becoming the owner of the largest Caribbean restaurant franchise chain in the United States. Golden Krust has over 100 location scattered across nearly a dozen states.
In 2003, Golden Krust was recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the Top 100 National Black-owned Companies in the United States.
Hawthorne spoke with BlackEnterprise.com and discussed his constant challenges as an entrepreneur even two decades after he started his company, what inspired him to write his book and why he prides himself to say, “Golden Krust is home of the world’s best tasting patties.”
Black Enterprise: What is it about your patties that you feel makes them better than other brands on the market?
Hawthorne: We take great pride in the authenticity and quality of our patties. Many of our ingredients are imported directly from Jamaica, enabling us to provide that superior quality and authentic taste of the islands that our customers long for.
What is an entrepreneurial challenge you still face today, even after 23 years in business?
There are numerous entrepreneurial challenges that I face day to day. The economy, the fluctuating cost of raw materials, and the challenges of running an efficient USDA manufacturing facility are all part of my daily problem solving routine. However, the most challenging of them all is making Golden Krust and its product offerings mainstream by the year 2020. We want Jamaican patties and jerk chicken to be common household food options like pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. We are not going to stop until that becomes a reality.
As an immigrant, how important was it to you to become a successful business owner in New York City?
Doing business in New York was certainly different from operating a business in Jamaica. Overcoming the obstacles imposed by government regulation, lack of funds, cultural differences, etc., meant that we had to work very hard to be successful. However, my family and I possessed the drive, determination and tenacity to succeed. We also knew when to seek help and employed experts to guide us through the rigorous system. I believe every immigrant that comes to the United States has the vision to attain the American dream and many find that through entrepreneurship.
Why did you decide to write The Bakers Son? What impact are you hoping to make on your readers?
There is an underlying tone in The Baker’s Son that helps the reader to understand that having a strong faith is an integral part of our business and daily lives. The ideas I want the readers to take away after reading my memoir are as follows:
1. Anybody can achieve the American dream. You’ve got to be focused, educated, have discipline, and be dogged in your pursuit of excellence.
2. With a hard work ethic and a vision anything is achievable.
3. Set your goals high, but be realistic. There will be many obstacles, but with persistence and a no-quit attitude, success is inevitable.
4. Risks not taken are opportunities missed. Within entrepreneurship you always have to take calculated risks.
How has philanthropy benefited the continued success of your business?
In 2005, we created the Mavis and Ephraim Hawthorne Golden Krust Scholarship Fund to provide financial assistance to young people interested in pursuing a tertiary education. Scholarships are awarded to youngsters in the United States as well as in Jamaica. Each year during October we also partner with the American Cancer Society to raise funds towards finding a cure for Breast Cancer. As Thanksgiving approaches you can be assured that Golden Krust will also be donating hot Caribbean inspired meals to senior homes and shelters across the region. This is an outreach activity we have been participating in for the past four years, feeding over 1,000 persons annually at Thanksgiving. We must give back to those who have helped to propel us forward.
You could have had anyone endorse your book on the back cover, and you chose our CEO, Earl “Butch” Graves. Why?
Over the years I have grown to admire the leadership and insight of Earl “Butch” Graves. We enjoy a great friendship borne out of mutual respect. In his position as President & CEO of Black Enterprise I felt that his endorsement would help to validate my story and open doors to new circles of influence.