Entrepreneurship runs deep in the Gutwein family blood lines. Harvey Gutwein grew up, working alongside his father, uncles, and brothers in the family seed business. The knowledge and skills gained in those early years of seed cleaning, bagging, and selling proved valuable when Harvey had a vision for a company of his own. As Gutwein Popcorn celebrates their 25th anniversary, we wanted to share their story…
In a rented warehouse, just north of the small town of Francesville (pop. 830), Gutwein Popcorn opened its doors in 1998. In the midst of farming and raising five kids, Harvey and his wife Ellen used their previous experiences and a vision, sprinkled with a bit of risk, to start a new venture. Today, Gutwein Popcorn is loaded on freightliners to cross the Atlantic, trucked across the United States, and has become the official popcorn of both Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Slow and steady has been the name of the game for Gutwein Popcorn. In 2011, they took ownership of the space they were renting and the growth began. Construction on a new production facility and four additional grain bins began in 2013. Over time, the company has invested in updated equipment, additional space, and added more grain storage. The most recent addition of an automated bagging line in 2022, expanded the capacity of their eight full-time employees. In a short 75 minutes, the facility can clean, sort, and bag enough popcorn to fill a semi-trailer. Gutwein Popcorn produces 50 million pounds of popcorn a year, a number the family hopes to continue to grow for many years to come.
As Harvey and Ellen’s children became adults, two of their sons became an active part of the business. You can find Tyler moving around the processing facility – sampling kernels, supervising the sorting and cleaning equipment, or managing outgoing product. A few miles away, his brother Lance manages the family’s growing operation. The Gutwein family farms 2,400 acres of popcorn fields, rotated every few years with a soybean crop. Their wives, Erica and Lacie, share the office responsibilities and operate the retail space at Gutwein Popcorn. On a summer day you may find a third generation of the family working, as the Gutwein grandchildren begin to get involved in the family business.
“Our sons were in high school when we started the popcorn company,” shared Harvey. “Once Lance and Erica and Tyler and Lacie started working with us, they became very instrumental in the growth of our business.”
There are 10,000 acres of popcorn grown each year for Gutwein Popcorn’s sales. Some is trucked in from as far away as Ohio, but most of the kernels are raised by farmers within 25 miles of Francesville. Partnerships, to expand their facility and acreage, have enabled them to grow.
Advice for new entrepreneurs?
“It is an interesting time. It isn’t necessarily easy,” admits Harvey. “It takes patience and hard work. You need good people. Ultimately, you’ve got to have quality and service.”
The Gutwein Family invites you to join them at their facility, located at 3215 S 1450 W, Francesville this Friday, June 23rd for an Open House to celebrate their 25th Anniversary. Along with tours of the facility, guests can enjoy games, giveaways, and food from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm ET.