Purchasing equipment on a whim goes against everything one is taught in business school. David Cork knew that, but he did it anyway, because he wanted to replicate something he had tasted that he knew others would love as well.
"I really did buy this equipment on a whim," Cork said. "I had been to a Boy Scout event at Camp Blue Heron in Riceboro, Georgia and there was a fellow there making kettle corn. I wanted to learn how to make it, because it was that good."
Cork didn't have a business plan, but he figured he could provide his kettle corn for church events, fund raising activities, and yes, perhaps the Statesboro Farmers Market.
Cork ordered the 80-gallon cooker with no recipe to follow or directions for success.
"I guess you could say that I just went for it," he said.
It took Cork about a year to perfect the recipe and cooking process, and he and his family haven't looked back since.
"We began selling the corn at the Farmers Market when it was being held at the Georgia Southern Botanical Gardens," he said. "Then we relocated to the Sea Island Bank parking lot when the Farmers Market moved there three years ago. In a way, you could say our business has grown with the market."
It is truly a family affair with Cork, his wife Dana, and their four children - Gracie (6), Harrison (8), Laney (14), and Lindsay (17) - helping out each Saturday. "I can't always get all of them down here, but this is how they earn their allowance, so there is that motivation."
Cork's son Harrison likes working the "front" where the corn is sold, and money changes hands.
"This is my favorite part of the whole thing," he said. "I love it, because this is my allowance. It is like family bonding time. I'm here every Saturday."
Statesboro Farmers Market manager Debra Chester said Cork's corn adds a lot to the ambience of the market.
"Literally, you can smell David's kettle corn before you get to the market," she said. "It really attracts people. Trust me, on the few Saturdays that David is unable to be here, shoppers really miss him and his family, and that great kettle corn. You can see the disappointment in their faces."
With the demand for Cork's Kettle Corn continuing to grow, the product can now be found in Anderson's General Store as well as on the Statesboro Famers market website.
"About a year ago, David brought a sample of the kettle corn to my mom," said Vicki Anderson, general manager of Anderson's General Store. "We all tasted it and knew we had to put it in the store. It is just great. Once you start, you can't quit eating it. People call all of the time to see if we have it in stock."
While the kettle corn company is a passion for Cork, he is first and foremost the successful owner of SourceOne, Inc, a military supply company specializing in maintenance, repair and operations supplies and related services to military bases in this area.
"It is a very interesting business, and sort of hard to explain to people sometimes," Cork said. "It is what I do for a living, and the kettle corn business is on the side. Frankly, I never imagined the corn would be this popular."
Cork said he has ordered a new cooker that is twice as large as the one he currently uses.
"This will be a 160-gallon cooker with all of the bells and whistles," he said. "You could say that the cooker I have now is like a Volkswagen, and the one I have ordered is a Ferrari. I can't wait."