Maker of butter-based spreads prepares for growth
Amanda and Greg Adams’ flavored-butter spread was their go-to contribution for special events and family get-togethers. Made from a recipe handed down by Amanda’s mother, the unique topping was a big hit. So when the couple went missing from one party, the frantic calls started coming in.
“We used to make it for friends and family and church events and people expected it,” says Greg Adams. “When we didn’t show up one year because we were sick we got texts from everyone asking where we were.”
That gave the couple the idea to launch Susie’s Foods Inc., the year-old Reno-based maker of Syrupdipity, a line of six flavored butter-based spreads, including maple, blackberry cheesecake and s’mores, for pancakes, popcorn, baked potatoes or any food typically served with butter.
The locally made product is available now in nine Scolari’s and two Sak ‘n Save grocery stores and is in the process of being approved for sale by Raley’s, which would carry it here and in stores throughout California.
It’s been a quick journey from concept to store shelves for the couple. Once the pair had the idea for Susie’s Foods, they read about Project Vesto, the contest for start-ups sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. They applied and made it to the semi-finals.
“It got us organized and helped us put our ideas on paper,” says Adams. “They loved our product but said we didn’t have the infrastructure needed.”
After that, they incorporated the business, named after Amanda’s mother who died in 1992, and leased time and space at One World Kitchen, a commercial kitchen in Sparks. Then, in the spring, the pair started hitting the farmer’s markets in Reno and Sparks.
“It blew up from there,” says Adams. “We were the belle of the ball at every farmer’s market.”
They made connections at the events, including with Fran Pritchard, owner of Killer Salsa, the fast-growing Gardnerville salsa brand, whose business is a role model, says Adams. They joined Made in Nevada, the nonprofit that promotes members locally-made products. And they attended business classes and worked with mentors at SCORE, the nonprofit business assistance program sponsored by the Small Business Administration.
Once the farmer’s markets ended, Adams began calling grocery chains, starting with Scolari’s, whose manager at first seemed ready to dismiss just another sales pitch.
“Then she said ‘Hold on, were you at the farmer’s market at The Summit Mall?’” says Adams. “She had already tried it and said ‘You’re in.’”
If picked up by Raley’s, which has 180 stores in California, the business would take a big step forward. The couple has boot-strapped Susie’s Foods with $50,000 in savings, but would need to find a co-packer or build a facility themselves to make the leap onto that many store shelves.
“We can handle about 40 stores now, but after that we need a packer so we’re looking for investors,” says Adams. “By this time next year, we’ll have a significant investor.”
They’re also speaking with other grocery chains and in the future might sell online, although they don’t want to compete with the stores.
And Susie’s Foods could expand its product line. The pair has recipes for 30 spreads and plans to bring out seasonal items, such as apple pie-flavored spread for the Fourth of July, the proceeds of which would go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Adams is a third generation Marine. A portion of all Susie Foods sales benefit the veteran’s group as well help fund breast cancer research in honor of Amanda’s mother Susie.
In the meantime, the business owners are busy keeping pace with a fast-growing start-up.
“It is lots of fun,” says Adams. “Most days I can hardly contain my excitement.”
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada said his organization is “very concerned about disruptions to the supply chain.”