The Early Days
In 1924, Benjamin Tillman "Pop" Byrd, Sr., at the age of 28, began baking his famous Scotch Oatmeal cookies in beautiful Savannah Georgia. He had a small bakery downtown near City Market and delivered the fresh cookies to stores around town in his Model T Ford. Typically, the cookies were sold out of large glass jars at '2 for a penny'. Pop's cookies quickly became a favorite among locals and several more items were added to the bakery lineup, but nothing was as unique or as popular as the Scotch Oatmeal cookie. As the business grew, Pop decided to move the bakery closer to home on the outskirts of town, a little community called Sandfly. In 1929, he converted a tin-sided barn into a larger bakery which he lovingly named "Byrd's Famous Cookies."
When Benjamin Tillman "Cookie" Byrd, Jr. took over the company in 1949, he created separate bakery and retail spaces. With a desire to play the tour guide to locals wanting to learn more about the bakery, "Cookie" Byrd opened the Cookie Shanty. Inside the Cookie Shanty, he sold traditional cookies as well as unique products of his own creation, including the Benne Wafer, named after the cookie's signature benne seeds. He began packing Byrd cookies inside sturdy metal tins, which allowed for products to be shipped across the country, expanding the company's reach far beyond Georgia.
New Levels of Success
In 1988, "Cookie" Byrd's daughter, Kay Curl, took the family business to even higher levels of success with exciting new flavors and beautiful tin designs, expanding Byrd's presence in the gift industry. Byrd's tart Key Lime Cooler was named the Dessert of the Year at the National Food Association's Fancy Food Show, marking the first time a cookie earned top dessert honors. Originally created as a birthday gift to Kay's husband, Bennie Curl, who loves key lime pie, the Key Lime Cooler continues to be one of the company's best-selling items.
In 2011, Stephanie Curl Lindley stepped in as the 4th generation owner, dramatically increasing revenue and investing millions to upgrade production equipment. A savvy business leader, Stephanie Lindley has expanded Byrd's reach even further through strategic partnerships with major retailers including LL Bean, Bergdorf Goodman and Delta Airlines. In 2017, Byrd announced a $4 million expansion at its bakery in Savannah, adding 10,000 square feet of space, significantly increasing production capacity and creating more than 50 new jobs.
A Bright Future
Today, Byrd Cookie Company is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent cookie, snack and gift companies in the United States. Proudly headquartered in Savannah, this award-winning, family-owned company provides fresh-baked products to customers around the world. The company also creates private label items for companies including Neiman-Marcus, Ritz-Carlton and Cumberland Farms and operates successful retail stores in Georgia,South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Working at Byrd since: 1988
Favorite part of my job: Creating new cookie flavors and developing new products.
Stephanie Lindley, Byrd Cookie Company's CEO and fourth-generation owner, grew up in Peachtree City, Georgia, located just outside Atlanta, and studied business at Southern University and Kennesaw State University. She moved to Savannah, Georgia in 1988 to learn how to run Byrd Cookie Company, a popular family-owned bakery originally founded by her great-grandfather, Benjamin Tillman Byrd Sr., in 1924.
Methodically trained in every aspect of the company's operations, from warehouse organization to mixing and baking dough, Lindley developed creative new flavors - including Byrd's award-winning Key Lime Cooler - that gave the gourmet food industry confidence in the Byrd brand and in the next generation of leadership.
Over the years, Lindley has grown Byrd Cookie Company from a regional cookie bakery to a national leader in the specialty food industry. Strategic partnerships with Delta Airlines, Universal Studios, Neiman Marcus, Dylan's Candy Bar and Williams-Sonoma helped position Byrd as a leading gourmet cookie brand with strong annual sales and successful retail stores in Georgia and South Carolina.
Under Lindley's leadership, Byrd focused on meeting the increased demand for cookies while exceeding sales objectives for retail stores, wholesale manufacturing and contract baking. Contract baking for other companies helped lower overhead, expand stable revenue partnerships and increase sales. In recent years, Byrd secured major baking contracts with Trader Joe's, United Airlines, Dollar Tree and Target, repositioning the company as an international large-volume cookie manufacturer.
Lindley recently oversaw a $6 million expansion at Byrd's production facility in Savannah, Georgia, including the addition of a new state-of-the-art industrial baking line that allows the company to bake more than one billion cookies annually to keep pace with growing demand. This strategic expansion will enable Byrd exceed $50 million in annual revenue. A second expansion, scheduled for 2020, will support $100 million in annual revenue by 2025.
A member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Lindley is motivated to share the best of Savannah with a global audience and to make the world a little sweeter, one cookie at a time.
Working at Byrd since: 2000
Favorite part of my job: Developing partnerships that help put more cookies in more mouths.
Geoff Repella is the President of Byrd Cookie Company, a multichannel merchant selling deliciously unique cookies to big retailers, airlines, amusement parks, hotels and gift shops around the world.
Repella has been with the company since 2000 and has served on numerous boards including the Historic Savannah Foundation, Island Hospice, The Savannah Children's Theatre and the Savannah Waterfront Association.
He earned Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Georgia. He splits his time between Savannah and New York, with his husband, Warren Bimblick, and his children Grace and Finn.
Working at Byrd since: 2013
Favorite part of my job: Maintaining the quality of Byrd products and making sure everything runs smoothly in the bakery.
Jamie Lindley is the fifth generation of the Byrd family to assume a leadership role at Byrd Cookie Company in Savannah, Ga. since the company's founding in 1924.
In 2018, Jamie received the Savannah Morning News Generation Next Award, a prestigious honor given to individuals considered "rising stars" in the local business community. In 2022, he was accepted into the Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Savannah class. He is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia, where he earned a B.A. in Economics while serving as a kicker on the UGA football team.
As the Vice President of Operations at Byrd Cookie Company, Jamie oversees the production, logistics, and engineering departments, which include nearly 50 employees. He maintains quality control for all of Byrd's retail, wholesale and large-volume contract orders and manages the production schedule for baked goods. He also ensures compliance with federal, state, and third-party consumer advocacy group guidelines.
Did You Know?
- Big Winner - Byrd's Key Lime Coolers made history when they became the first cookie to win Dessert of the Year at the Specialty Food Association's Fancy Food Show.
- Sky High - Byrd bakes cookies for United Airlines and Delta, providing passengers with tasty treats, like Maple Wafers and Almond Shortbread cookies.
- Old Faithful - Today, Byrd Cookie Company has 16 delicious flavors to choose from, with more being developed every year, but the original Byrd flavor will always be Scotch Oatmeal.
- More Cookies - In the summer of 2018, Byrd Cookie Company installed a new 170-foot oven that increased the company's production to more than one billion cookies each year!
- Personal Touch - Every bakery bag is filled by hand with freshly baked cookies and weighed for accuracy.