Success stories

Cherry Republic

Glen Arbor, Michigan

Bob Sutherland started this cherry-centric business in 1988 by selling t-shirts sporting a cherry design from the trunk of his cafe. The focus on cherries made sense: Leelanau County grows more cherries than any other county in the U.S. A few years later, Bob began to sell cherry-based food products.

Today, Cherry Republic manufactures, packages, and sells over 250 different cherry products. Consumers can find Cherry Republic products in their 4 retail stores, as well as 450 other retail outlets in the U.S. The company’s catalog and internet business also carries the Cherry Republic product line.

Todd Ciolek came on board in 2002. Ciolek and Sutherland, who focuses on marketing and is the creative face of the business, are quick to say their core values of “life, liberty, beaches, and pie” have brought them to this positive place. These values represent their interest in being good citizens and stewards of their northern environment, having fun, and sharing their prosperity.

Business operations now encompass eight facilities in a combination of leased, rented, and owned spaces. The Cherry Republic team consists of about 250 people at the peak of business in December when they ship up to 6000 packages a day. Cherry Republic donates 1% of sales annually. Since inception, this has resulted in $700,000 given to northern Michigan causes that preserve agriculture, boost small farm economy, and restore rural communities.

Cherry Republic Impacts:

  • Expanded a Current Cherry Republic Retail Location In Traverse City Into a Second Flagship Store
  • Expect To At Least Double Gross Income In That Location
  • Staffing Will Increase By At Least 10 Full-Time Employees


More Success Stories

Sean Hollins knows all too well the challenges of being a Black business owner – the search for funding, the wealth disparities, the lack of…
Jessica Nagel didn’t realize the depths of plumbing knowledge she was going to need to start a business. “There was virtually no plumbing I could…
Jonathan Farman says the best business move he ever made was finding the right partner. Jonathan Frantz, his partner, agrees. The two met in 2016…