Interview With Justin Gold Of Justin's


Hey, everyone and welcome to how I built this resilience edition and these episodes. As many of you know we talk with entrepreneurs and other business leaders about how they're thinking creatively during this very disruptive time and today we're going to hear from Justin Gold. He's the founder of Justin's which makes peanut and almond butter protein bars and other nut snacks and ever since the pandemic. Started Justin has noticed a few changes in the way people shop for their comfort food but first, he told me a bit about how to start. So I'm a vegetarian and seventeen years ago I started making peanut butter almond butter in my kitchen with food processor mainly because I sound like a fossil. But back, then there are two types of peanut butter, right? It was. Smooth and Crunchy, and that was really it. There were a few brands of almond butter. None of them tasted really good. You know when you eat a handful of almonds tasted amazing. So curiosity led me down a path of experimenting, and then with a food processor is making all these concoctions putting them in jars literally putting them in the fridge and in the cupboards my. Roommate started eating them all astray writing Justin's on the jars, right to kind of protect it, and at that point someone said, hey, this is a really great product. You've thought about turning it into a business and a new anything about business but I didn't know how to do is use a library semi us see US business schools libraries, and go to call Colorado Colorado oversight. In Boulder and they go to school here. But I knew I felt confident using their library and I wrote a business plan and I got a lot of help from local mentors and advisors and people in the community launched at the farmer's market and launched. It was just with the jars and I got him into a few local stores and I was really struggling and what got us kind of noticed I guess you could say was getting outside the jar in getting into a squeeze pack and a squeeze Pam was really are single point of differentiation and it. Allowed consumers not only to travel with portable plant based protein but also have is trowel sized to try something new like an almond butter because almond butter was you know over ten dollars a jar and that's a big ring for someone to try something new. But for squeeze pack alleviated that pain brought them into the franchise. Then we also do chocolates and it's not because it was a really smart deliberate business decision is because I love peanut butter cups and no one was me who does what those those are the things I pick out of my kids Halloween bags. Peanut, butter. Cups but just going back on those squeezed packs for those who don't know what they are I mean that's pretty self explanatory little Sarah squeezy pack, peanut butter kind of like those energy. Packs I use those when I run they're great and so that was really the differentiator. It wasn't the jars of peanut because they look different. But that wasn't what got the attention. It was as little squeeze packs. It was I thought the dress would be enough because honey and we had cinnamon maple and just a the flavor differentiation, but it's still really wasn't enough to stand out on shelf in what happened was squeezed pack not only did it create a whole new category of products also made this portable protein kind of nut butter reality and it all came because I'm a big mountain biker I wanted protein I didn't need more sugar carbohydrates and what was Really Fun to me, I launched a product. People didn't know what to do with it. Right? They were like, well, do I put it on a sandwich with Jelly together I don't know put it on an apple right out of the pack and they're like Oh really, and then what happened is when other companies started to create their own squeeze tax it really validated as a category really special it's really done has been a trial vehicle for our jars. Yeah, and that's really helped grow the jars in dorning the pandemic the jar business has been the strongest part of our business because it is that household plant based protein that is is a staple. I read an interview gave or you describe the first kind of three years I think one of the things you did and this is really cool for anybody who is starting a business. Now that in the early days, you would go to whole foods and you would look at all of the glass jars at whole foods to find out what brands were being made in class where they were manufactured packed and you contacted a glass jar. Co Packer in the area and begged them to have some time on their line and I guess you got like overnights and weekends, and you basically spent three years just packing your own nut butter into glass jars and that was not sustainable right? It was not profitable is not sustainable. It was just a grind. How did you keep going? What made it? What made you not just give up? Had A goal. I knew what numbers needed to a had a plan on what retailers needed to roll out to to achieve those numbers and it was the optimism that I had from the local community. A great community is support. Local is Support Natural Organic support the entrepreneur, and also realized that I'm not really a skilled operator. I'm my my passion skill is outside of the manufacturing, but I knew that I had to hit certain volumes in order to get to a manufacturing facility where they could focus on other things, sales marketing growing the brand in. So I really worked really hard knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel in March. When the became clear the pandemic was going to be serious thing people rushed to the stores to buy toilet paper and energy bars and I'm assuming nut butters to M- assuming you you probably saw a spike in sales is that right? By the way we did we did not across the board, but across the business yes. Then were you bracing for a decline in revenue I know the that Justin's nut butters were purchased by Hormel, in two thousand sixteen. So you've got a parent company, but you're still operate independently and you still work there were you guys kind of bracing for for a decline in revenue? So the first thing we had to do. Was, make sure that everyone in our organization felt safe supported and that they had food that everyone knew that we weren't going to. Shut down our business so I think. Giving people the of security game them the optimism to continue to do their jobs into they're taking care of, and we didn't know what to brace for to be completely honest. We started to reach out for retailers to see what they needed and and they towards exactly what they needed was more product everything flowed downstream so that we reached out to our contract manufacturers to make sure that be saved in supply, and we actually had to make sure that they were taking care of their people having four holidays back to back to back this unprecedented demand in. So the first thing we had to do is kind of cut back on the skew set in our top sellers, and then our manufacturers went to seven days a week, and it's monitoring their progress monitoring stores and allocating to source based on their demanded needs and. Then, pulling resources away from food service and putting them more towards grocery. It's it was wild and it continues

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