Interview with Barry Wolton – President & CEO of Cinnaroll Bakeries


Mar 23, 2011

Barry Wolton is the President and CEO of Cinnaroll Bakeries Limited since 2003. Barry began his career with Cinnaroll in 1990 and quickly moved through the company. Barry was instrumental in the development of the Baker Boys manufacturing facility and was a key player in the international expansion of the Cinnzeo brand in 1998. Born in Calgary in to a family of entrepreneurs, Barry has established himself as a natural business leader and trusted advisor.

Cinnaroll Bakeries prepares and sells cinnamon rolls in retail branded Cinnzeo stores in Western Canada, as well as franchise locations in the Chile, Mexico, and the Middle East, CinnZeo units are primarily located in malls and food courts. Cinnaroll Bakeries also has commercial bakery operations; under the brand name Baker Boys, the company manufactures and supplies frozen cinnamon rolls and Danish pastries to retailers and food distributors (such as SYSCO, IGA, and Costco) across Canada and in the US. Formerly a Cinnabon franchisee, Cinnaroll Bakeries created its own company and franchising concept in 1997.

BeTheBoss - Tell us a little about Cinnzeo.

Barry Wolton - Cinnamon rolls are a North American phenomenon with worldwide appeal. The aroma of sweet cinnamon is recognized and coveted by nearly every culture across the globe. Cinnzeo has captured this internationally desired flavor appeal with its series of fresh bakery products and made it available to franchisees around the world.

Now close your eyes and imagine that challenging day either at the office or at home with the kids. You are feeling the stress of a full day and you are in the mall and suddenly your senses are acute to the wonderful smell of Cinnamon. You seem drawn to the location. As you approach this attractive looking bakery, you see our friendly staff preparing our delicious products. You can see all of the fresh ingredients being used and on the hotplate is the prize. A hot, gooey delight smothered in Cream Cheese frosting. At this moment you are helpless. Your nose and eyes have drawn you close and now your stomach takes over. Our friendly people in their crisp bright uniforms present you with your prize of a Cinnaroll and a cup of fresh brewed coffee and you head to a table either in the adjacent food court or in one of our comfortable dining rooms. As you walk to the table your mind rushes with what to do first. Do I eat the roll from the outside or the inside? Once at the table you taste that first bite. It is a truly emotional experience. You savor every bite and the challenges of the day seem to disappear. You have rewarded yourself.

BTB - How and when did you become involved with Cinnzeo (Cinnaroll Bakeries Limited, Parent company)?

BW - I joined Cinnaroll back in 1990 as a bakery manager in Edmonton Alberta and worked my way through the company becoming a district manager, Vice President and then CEO in 2003. In our early days we were a franchisee of a large American bakery concept and began the Cinnzeo concept in 1997. When I first joined the company I couldn’t believe how much effort we had to put in to offer our guests an oven hot Cinnamon roll. We still put in the same effort to each and every cinnamon roll we prepare and strive to constantly improve our guest experience and our franchisees experience.

BTB - What was my background prior to Joining Cinnzeo?

BW - I have always been involved in the food and entertainment industry for as long as I remember. Trained as a chef out of high school and working in all areas of the hospitality business. Found my calling in multi-unit management when I joined Cinnaroll and have never looked back. I loved the company and the product so much I ended up buying the company in 2007 with my 2 partners, Craig Parsons and Don Cline.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Cinnzeo franchisee?

BW - It’s safe to say that you already understand the franchising concept and why franchising makse sense, but why Cinnzeo.

Don, Craig and I grew up in the Cinnamon roll business and have an intense understanding and passion for our brand and our franchisees success. We too were franchisees and understand both sides of the relationship. We are co-dependant on each other’s success.
Second is our product. I still get a thrill when I get to sample our products to a new guest or franchisee. It’s warm and comforting and you can see the smile grow on the first timers face. It’s not food, it’s an emotional experience. It’s a reward for a job well done or for being a good mom. It’s the box sitting on the kitchen table Christmas morning or a sign of kindness at the sickbed. People really do get excited about a Cinnzeo cinnamon roll.
There are not a lot of products out today that can take us away from our stressful lives and return to us mom’s warm embrace. It’s not often that you get that feeling from a hamburger.

BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee?

BW - Cinnaroll Bakeries Limited requires all Franchise Strategic Partners to have the following requirements:

  • Understands Franchising
  • Understands the necessity for compliance in operating systems within a franchise to ensure consistent image in order to get and keep customers
  • Net worth of $300K for single unit, $500K for multi-unit
  • Operations background
  • Proficient in the English Language, both written and oral
  • Solid understanding of “Customer Service”
  • Has experience with managing hourly wage people
  • Possesses natural entrepreneurial spirit, including natural salesmanship abilities
  • Committed to working hands on the business or will hire a manager that will be on staff on a regular work schedule
  • Candidate Ideal Attributes
  • Connected to community
  • Ability to be hands on in business
  • Ability to fully entrench within 3 months of application
  • Financial net worth of > $500K
  • Liquid cash of > $300K
  • Foodservice management/owner experience

BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

BW - Surround yourself with excellent people! This means business partners, franchisees, employees and vendors.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking for a franchise?

BW - Do your research in yourself first. Is a franchise right for you, do you have the time to run the franchise properly, can you follow direction.
Some people should not be franchisees and they tend to forget why they bought into a franchise concept. Franchises work when you follow the system and stick to it. If you are the type of person that likes to think outside the box, please remember the box is there for a reason. You paid a franchise fee to get into the box and use the many years of expertise from the franchisor to make the box profitable. If you don’t want to use it don’t invest in a franchise.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Cinnzeo would be a great opportunity for someone?

BW - It is a feel good business that delivers great results. Its hard work as any good business is but at the end of the day it is very satisfying. You will be amazed by your guest reactions to your cinnamon rolls and every day we will learn and grow together.
We do know what we are doing but not so much that we are arrogant to new ideas. We want you in our family and we want to treat you like family. We have always believed in over supporting our franchises and would love to have an opportunity to sit down with you and share our ideas and a warm cinnamon roll. Until then, best wishes.