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Cinnabon president shares stories, strategies for business success

April 17, 2014 By    

Kat Cole’s journey to president of Cinnabon and the business strategies that have made the cinnamon roll-making company among the most recognized brands in the country topped the Southeast show’s general session focus.

Cole related her stories of success and setbacks to propane industry companies. She talked about the importance of change, partnerships and having the right people in place.

“When things are good, we’re not as willing to change,” Cole says. “The problem is the time to make radical changes is not when things have gone up in smoke.”

Cole says business owners must be open to change, which doesn’t mean “walking away from where you came from.” Maybe it involves expanding a product offering, for example.

“If we don’t start leveraging what we’re good at, we will lose slowly and painfully over time,” she says.

Cole stressed partnerships, which provide access to additional customers. They help develop more opportunities that could grow over time.

Because people “spend their lives on their smartphones,” Cole believes in online strategies, such as a blog about propane.

“Online relationships always turn into real-life relationships,” she says.

Companies must be willing to listen to their employees – sooner rather than later, Cole says. Employees might know the right decision long before company leaders make the call.

“We don’t act fast enough and our competition acts faster,” she says.

Cole addressed show attendees for about an hour, at times in a deeply personal manner. She described growing up in the Jacksonville, Fla., area; her mother moving the family away from their alcoholic father; and a series of business lessons learned early on while working at Hooters.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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