Mary Crafts-Homer has won dozens of awards for her catering business, Culinary Crafts, including being named Best of State 12 times—twice over the entire hospitality industry—and Caterer of the Year by the International Caterers Association. She’s been named Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce twice and one of 30 Women to Watch by Utah Business magazine. But the award she’s proudest of is the Kirk Englehardt Excellence in Business Ethics Award from the Utah Valley University Center for the Study of Ethics. That’s because she’s all about integrity.
“After 30 years of having integrity be my mantra, to be acknowledged by my peers for standing for integrity was quite the thing,” she says. Another award she’s particularly fond of is being named one of the 10 Coolest Entrepreneurs by UtahValley360. “I love that at age 62 I was thought of as cool,” she beams.
To Crafts-Homer, integrity includes maintaining her company debt-free, always paying her employees on time and always paying every bill on time, even during the recession. When she built a shiny new headquarters for Culinary Crafts in Pleasant Grove, Utah, people advised her not to sign a personal guarantee on the loan. “Why not?” says Crafts-Homer. “There’s not a line drawn between my company and myself. If I take someone’s money and then I’m not able to pay them, you’re darned right I’m personally liable. And I would sell my home and everything I own to make sure I take care of my obligations. When people know that about me, they want to do business with me. They want to work for me. Integrity is the single greatest thing we have in business.”
And that commitment to integrity is part of what Crafts-Homer has passed down to her children. Her two sons work with her — Ryan as chief operations officer and Kaleb as chief sales officer — and currently own 49 percent of the business. She confides that the best part of working with your children is that they bring the grandkids.
“Sometimes they say that the next generation doesn’t feel the commitment for a company that the first generation did. That’s not the case here. I’ve created a good company, but they are going to make it great,” says Crafts-Homer. “I’m so proud of them — their leadership abilities and their commitment to integrity and their desire to be of service to the greater good in this world. This is not just about making money, it’s about what we can do for this community.” When Crafts-Homer retires, she plans to sell her share of the company to her sons and her daughter, Meagan, who is currently studying theater at UVU.
Crafts-Homer also credits her success to her commitment to excellence, which she clarifies is not the same thing as perfection, which can cause undue stress and harm your health. “Whatever your best is on any given day is all that’s asked of you,” she says. Whether a client is having a small, low-budget luncheon or a dream-of-a-lifetime wedding, Crafts-Homer brings her best to every client and every relationship.
“So many wonderful memories and good times in our lives revolve around food. Think about the traditions we have with holidays and birthdays, Christmas and weddings,” says Crafts-Homer, who loves being in the food industry and serving people. She’s also passionate about eating seasonally and locally and eating for health. “Food is the biggest thing we take into our bodies,” she points out.
On the Foundation Board, Crafts-Homer serves on the Engagement Committee, which gives her a chance to be involved in events such as the Scholarship Ball and scholarship luncheons. The committee is also putting together a program to market UVU to the public, analyzing what the community thinks of the University and how the Foundation can transform that impression to garner more donations. “We’ve got a long way to go,” she says. “UVU, being the largest school in the valley, is way behind in what we need for donations and tax dollars to be able to keep up with the growth.”
Right now, UVU is probably the most exciting place in Utah County to serve on a board, says Crafts-Homer. It’s growing by leaps and bounds, training the leaders of tomorrow to work right here in our state. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for anyone who wants to make a difference in their community right here right now,” she says.
After the Foundation Board’s first retreat, Crafts-Homer said, “I love these people, I’m anxious to see them again, I want to be engaged with them. They have become people that I can rely on in my business life and my personal life. You can’t develop a better relationship with a person than you can on a board that’s committed to be of service to something.”
Crafts-Homer is also a member of the National advisory Council for the Woodbury School of Business and says that the business majors UVU is putting out are really close to rivaling Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management graduates. She also serves on numerous boards throughout the community, including at Zions Bank, Intermountain Healthcare, United Way of Utah County, International Caterers Association Educational Foundation, Thanksgiving Point, The Living Planet Aquarium, and Women in Philanthropy, an organization she created together with former UVU Foundation Board member Cynthia Gambill.
A graduate of BYU, Crafts-Homer says that, as a student, she never thought she would be the breadwinner of her family. She advises young women to be prepared for any eventuality. “You never know what’s ahead of you, and you can save yourself a world of headache by graduating from college,” she says.
She also advises that we’re not in a position to receive the great blessings of this world if we hold onto our money and possessions tightly, but if we open our arms and let what we have flow out to others, we’ll be in a position for life to flow back to us. “I try and always live my life with my arms outstretched so I can be in the circle and flow of life,” she says. And the greatest lesson she’s learned in life is that in the end it’s just about love. “We are all looking to give and receive love. And fear, not hate, is the antithesis of love. I never want to make any decision out of fear, because it’s probably going to be wrong. If I make a decision that’s based on love and letting go of fear, it’s always right.”