Specialty Food Magazine

SUMMER 2015

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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mount. In your early stage, it's important to get the product right and make it one that customers want. Find your niche within the potato chip category. There is no shortage of potato chip offerings so think how you can differentiate and stand out. I think your lemon pepper is a unique flavor that will set you apart. Really push your story. It's a great one that buyers will like to hear about, and it will resonate. Make sure as you grow, you have the production capacity to do so. There is nothing worse than not being able to fill orders. We all want to be profitable, but as you grow there will be additional costs that will add up, so keep in mind all your expenses. Getting a booth at the Fancy Food Show is the best testing ground for your product. You will get open, honest feedback from potential customers. Ask questions. This industry is great when it comes to helping out new companies, and you will really know if you have something based on the honest feedback that industry peers can provide. Where are places you can recruit skilled workers and managers? N.K.: Our two best resources for recruiting are our website and our internal staff. As you grow, it's important to understand when you have an internal candidate that is ready and able to grow into larger responsibilities and a bigger role within your organization and when you need to search for a candidate with skill sets that may not be within your existing pool of employees. This can be extremely chal- lenging at times but in an entrepreneurial environment, it's one of the most important decisions that you continually make. They served the chips in the soup kitchen for three years before launching the business in 2014, "as a for-profit company to create wealth and work in our underserved and underinvested commu- nity," he says. Wimberley says Detroit Friends chips are like no other. "Our thickness is different, the texture is different, and the color of the chip is different," he says. The product contains no preservatives, and some potatoes are sourced from the organization's urban farm. "We do it all," he adds. "We wash the potatoes, we slice them, we fry them and add spices to create three f lavors: lemon pepper, barbecue, and sea salt." The chips are currently sold in 15 local outlets, but Detroit Friends Potato Chips has its sights set on becoming a nationwide brand. Here, veteran producers answer the company's most pressing questions to help it succeed. Do you have any advice on how to incorporate family members into a business? P.F.: We have seven family members working in our business right now, and we've had family members in and out of our company over the years. Here are a couple of things we've found helpful in hiring and working with family. Make sure that it is clear what their job responsibilities are before they start work the first day—no gray areas here at all. Also make sure they know what their pay is going to be before they start. The business needs to survive for family to derive an income from the business. Every family member needs to buy into that. Put them in an area where they will excel. Not everyone is a salesperson and not everyone is great with numbers or collecting accounts. We also know that employees will be watching family closer than other staff to make sure that everyone is treated equally. Family members need to know that they are an example for all others to follow, not an exception to the rules and policies. Remember, at the end of the day, you are still family. Nothing is worth losing your family members over. At this stage of the game, which metrics are most important to focus on? Number of customers, cli- ent satisfaction? Profit? S.N.: While growing your customer base is of supreme importance, getting feedback from your current customers and keeping them happy and coming back for the all-important reorders is para- Denise Purcell and Susan Segrest are editor and contributing editor, respectively, of Specialty Food Magazine. In your early stage, it's important to get the product right and make it one that customers want. SUMMER 2015 137

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