Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 74 of 139

Rebuilding a Classic After graduating, the friends moved on and took jobs in their respective fields, Norton in finance and Ramadan in consulting. Still knowing they were onto something with the ketchup, however, they spent the next two years thinking about their concept, performing market research, and developing market strategies, production strategies, and marketing ideas. Ketchup remained a focus for the duo, thanks to the growing natural foods market and push toward transparency in ingredient sourcing in both retail stores and restaurants. "The burger is the No. 1 most-ordered item in America in restau- rants, and every burger comes with ketch- up," Ramadan says. "No one had done to ketchup, and condiments more generally, what some of the other famous natural food brands had done in other categories." The friends worked to craft a ketchup that strayed from the market leader in f la- vor, packaging, and bottle shape. "Instead of using tomatoes that are grown for yield and using oils to f lavor it," Norton explains, "we grow our tomatoes for f lavor and we let the tomatoes f lavor the ketchup itself." The resulting product, Norton says, is healthier, has half the sugar, and boasts a more com- plex taste and texture. In 2010, Norton and Ramadan offi- cially kicked off the business, debuting with Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, in classic and spiced versions, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. A Friendly Partnership Norton and Ramadan realized that starting a business as friends doesn't always work, but they have found a way to play off each other's strengths and create a working environment that they're truly happy with. "We're lucky in this regard," Norton explains. "Mark and I know that we have complementary skill sets. So there are things that we trust each other on and that we let the other person sort of educate and advise on." Ramadan says each partner's posi- tion has evolved immensely over the past four years. For his part, Ramadan covers sales, operations, and finance as CEO, and Norton acts as the company's chief mar- keting officer, responsible for marketing, design, consumer outreach, and communi- cation. "No major decisions are made inde- pendently," Norton says. "We have a very collaborative style both in managing people and making decisions." While the duo was taking on virtu- ally every role to keep the business running in the beginning, they soon learned to encourage and empower their employees to work independently and to trust the results. "We're proud of the fact that our team is independent," Ramadan explains. "If Scott and I just didn't show up to work for a week, the company would work just fine, which is nice." Going Beyond Ketchup While the partners initially assumed the business would remain solely focused on producer profile MA RK RAMADAN Age: 28 Years in specialty food: 4 Favorite food: Tie between guacamole and hummus Least favorite food: Oysters Last thing I ate and loved: One of my new favorite dishes is from a restaurant in New York called Estela and it's the mussels escabeche. It's a ridiculously amazing dish. If I weren't in the food business I'd be: Traveling. Probably more realistically, I'd be in the world of hospitality in some way. One piece of advice I'd give to a new food business: Invest as much time and as much capital as you can afford in your packaging. SCOTT NORTON Age: 28 Years in specialty food: 4 Favorite food: Tie between ramen and pizza Least favorite food: Kidneys Last thing I ate and loved: Date, tahini, and almond butter smoothie If I weren't in the food business I'd be: Working in technology. One piece of advice I'd give to a new food business: Know what impact you want to have on food culture. 72 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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