An only child, Cindy Ray was raised on a 500-acre family homestead in Cabot, Arkansas. Her family had roots on the property for over 100 years, raising horses and cattle. In addition to her regular farm duties, Cindy had a summertime watermelon and cantaloupe business, selling them locally. For her and the extended family who worked the property, it was all hands on-deck all the time.
Looking back, Cindy believes she worked harder as a child than she does as an adult. She remembers thinking, “When I’m old enough, I’ll live in town, within 5 minutes of McDonald’s, with a lawn the size of a postage stamp, and I never want to see another horse again.”
In fact, during her college years at the University of Arkansas, she was lying in bed one Saturday morning and heard the bells ringing on campus. She thought to herself, “There’s not a dang thing I have to do today, and this is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life!”
Of course, she did work hard during college, graduating in 1994 with a degree in Journalism and an emphasis in advertising and public relations. She got a job with at Kraft Foods in Chicago, and was tasked with opening their Bentonville office, which she still calls home. Throughout her career she spent 7 years each at Kraft, Clorox, Dial, and Lindt chocolates.
In 2015, she was recruited by Just Born, one of the few remaining family-owned companies in the confectionary business. They are famous for making Peeps, but also make Mike & Ikes and Hot Tamales candies.
Originally piped by hand, founder Sam Born invented a machine to mass produce Peeps, and that machine is still in use today. Just Born recently celebrated their 100th anniversary, a rare milestone for a family business in candy.
Cindy loves her role with Just Born, managing a small team of young professionals. Between her and the team, they manage big relationships with Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, BJs, and Amazon. The next time you see Peeps for sales in these establishments, you’ll know the woman who makes it happen.
Cindy’s son is a high school senior who plays baseball and football. She also has a big, black goldendoodle named Baron. Her boyfriend, a retired VP from Bass Pro Shop, is an avid golfer and she loves watching him play. She may take up the game, but is currently getting the hang of pickle ball and “dabbling in other future hobbies.”
Cindy loves this calmer phase of life, and feels like she’s “not running as ragged as I used to.” Between her impressive career in confections and the wonderful men in her life, you could say things are pretty sweet for Affinity client Cindy Ray.