How We Started
Born in Iowa and raised in Arizona from an early age, Mike Cranny grew up with a keen work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. As a young boy, he figured out quickly that working in the school kitchen, doing dishes, and serving food, would earn him a free lunch. From there, the school food service seed was planted.
Throughout the years, Mike held numerous roles within the food industry with companies such as Carnation Company, DOB Food Products, Fisher Cheese Company, Kellogg Company, and Harker’s Inc.
As VP of Sales & Marketing at Harker’s, Mike had a good understanding of how food service management companies operated and knew the benefits they afforded school districts. At that time, most management companies would only contract with large schools, leaving the smaller schools with few, if any options for support. Mike saw a need and a niche in this market and with his passion for food and his knowledge of the school food service industry, Mike formulated a business model that paved the way for small schools to not only receive the same benefits as larger schools, but to also receive an even better program by offering all students an unlimited fruit and vegetable bar as a part of their reimbursable meal.
In 1997, Mike signed his first food service management contract with one single school district; Dakota Valley in South Dakota. That first contract not only forged a partnership that has lasted for over two decades, but it was also a door-opening experience for Mike that would ultimately provide many more opportunities, turning one customer success story into many customers success stories.
“I started the company in 1997 and at that time it was just me. In the first few years, as I added a few schools I became a cook, a server, a dishwasher, and did just about anything I could to make operations run. I am pleased that today I can say we have the right people in the right places, and it has been tremendous to watch it all come together. It is the team members that run the operations that make us the best company there is in K-12 schools and our customers successes are proof of that.” – Mike Cranny
Although Mike is no longer involved with the company’s day-to-day operations, he remains an active member of the Lunchtime Solutions Board of Directors. He resides in Dakota Dunes, SD with his wife, Josie. They both enjoy traveling, and you can always count on Mike for some memorable hunting and fishing stories, because he has lots of them! If you do happen to catch him at home, you can be sure he is whipping up something interesting and delicious in the kitchen, usually trying to determine if it is something we could serve to our school customers.
Honest dialog and open communication was a critical component to making this a successful partnership. Lunchtime has changed my way of thinking. They are a partner, not a vendor. I could write all day about this!