Brattleboro granola business available to the right buyer – The Manchester Journal

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BRATTLEBORO — Ingrid and Franklin Chrisco spent their careers in education. The last 10 of Ingrid’s 44 years in education were spent as principal of Brattleboro Area Middle School. Franklin spent his 40 years teaching fifth- and sixth-graders at Academy and Oak Grove schools.

“And Saint Walnut,” laughed Franklin, about teaching Brattleboro students on the second floor of St. Michael’s Catholic School on Walnut Street.

While it’s been nearly a decade since they worked in the schools, they are still there in a way, in the form of True North Granola, which started as a family breakfast treat and has become a staple for kids in school cafeterias in Vermont and through after-school programs.

In the early 2000s, Ingrid started mixing granola in their kitchen and in 2007, inspired by the reaction of friends and family, began to offer it commercially. The Chriscos met the demand for several years out of their home, but the demand just kept growing, and they moved into the Cotton Mill, where they occupy several spaces where they can mix their granola while keeping their gluten-free and nut-free lines clear of contamination.

“We ship to 49 states,” said Ingrid. “I never even dreamed it would be a business. It was a little home hobby.”

But now Ingrid and Franklin are hoping to hang up their aprons and are looking for the right buyer.

“We have a very distinct mission and a set of guiding principles,” said Ingrid. “We want a buyer who will honor those. We want our staff to be here and the business to remain in Vermont.”

An optimal business transition plan would be to sell it to the current employees, said Ingrid.

“We have the best staff in the world,” she said about their seven employees. “It is so important to us to maintain jobs for them. But also, they know this business well and they’re so good at it. Anybody who were to come in would benefit greatly by retaining them.”

Ingrid, who admits she pursues her passions enthusiastically, said it was painful for her to leave education and it will be painful to leave True North Granola.

“I was grieving terribly when I left the school,” said Ingrid, 75.

Ingrid is originally from Massachusetts and Franklin, 76, was born an army brat in Texas. His family eventually moved to New England, and the two met at UMass Lowell. They moved to Soldotna, Alaska, to teach, where Ingrid also became an editor of the local newspaper. Fifty years ago, they moved back to New England.

“We moved here because Windham College at the time had a theater program I was interested in,” said Ingrid. “That’s what brought us here.”

Now they are looking forward to retirement and spending time with their family.

“We have a growing family … three grandchildren at the moment and one of them is two weeks old,” said Ingrid. “We’d like to spend more time with our family and we’d like to be able to take some time and go on vacation.”

“We’re going to go see one of our granddaughters in a play, spend the night and then tomorrow we’ll go see the new little,” said Franklin, who is skeptical his wife will actually quit working. “She’s probably going to go to law school or something.”

“I’m not done,” admitted Ingrid. “I’m just going to be able to spend time with my grandchildren and with projects at home and with travel.”

“I’ll do work on projects around the house,” said Franklin, who also hopes to help his kids out. “I love working on projects when they need me to help them with that.”

Both Chriscos said they will miss their staff and their customers.

“We get calls from them sharing family news,” said Ingrid. “I feel like they’re our extended family.”

Chrisco said a major factor in their success has been the support of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and the ability to grow their business in the Cotton Mill, where they’ve been for 13 years.

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