Some firms might be afraid to allow their workers to make major decisions, but not Little Lady Foods. Instead, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Peter Cokinos says, the company trusts its associates to make the right decisions.
“Our style and management philosophy is not to create a lot of bureaucracy,” he explains. “Our strategic focus on the customer allows the organization to make decisions always with their best interest in mind.“
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Variety and versatility are the hallmarks of the products KLN Family Brands manufactures. These include Barrel O’ Fun snack foods, Kenny's Candy, Tuffy's Pet Foods and the newest, NutHeads Chocolate Factory, which was established last year.
“Not only do we have many different branded opportunities that are excellent products and we can put excellent programs together to take care of retailers’ needs, [but] if they’re looking for a store brand, we are willing to have that conversation,” declares Shane Kangas, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny’s Candy.
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“A lot of manufacturers don’t want to private-label,” he points out. “We’re prone to having that conversation. It’s allowed us to do a lot of business with customers across the country. Maybe our brands don’t resonate with them, but they have a strong store following.” KLN can also provide store brands for its retail clients; in fact, Kangas estimates up to 60 percent of the company’s production is private-label.
No matter how large Haggen Northwest Fresh has grown in the Pacific Northwest, the company’s executive team has maintained a feeling of community at each of the company’s locations in Washington and Oregon. Clement Stevens, Haggen’s senior vice president of marketing and merchandising, says that community feel is a point of emphasis for all aspects of the company’s branding.
“Haggen has an amazing heritage, for many years, of being a high-quality retailer in Western Washington,” Stevens says. “The idea of community is what everyone is trying to do today, but it has always been a part of the Haggen brand. Haggen is celebrating our 80th birthday this year [and] today, just like 80 years ago, we are focused on our customer and the community.
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If you’re going to ship a burrito nationally with a 12- to 18-month shelf life, it had better be frozen. That realization in 2005 inspired Phil Anson to start freezing the burritos he had been manufacturing since 2002 for retailers around Boulder, Colo., and it has since revolutionized the freezer cases of grocers nationwide.
EVOL is taking advantage of the movement toward natural foods and fresh products with not only burritos but gluten-free bowls and now two varieties of macaroni and cheese. The company is following its COO and founder’s original company name – Phil’s Fresh Foods LLC – as closely as it can and still distribute nationally. After all, frozen is closer to fresh than canned food.
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Although not ordinarily associated with speed, the rapidity at which DeMet’s candies and snacks – including its signature chocolate-covered “Turtles” – disappear off retailers’ shelves would cause any hare to pause before relaxing, even if he were used to racing the proverbial tortoise.
The popularity of DeMet’s Candy Co.’s Turtles, Flipz candy-coated pretzels, Treasures filled chocolates and TrueNorth nut snacks enable the company to grow rapidly. Vice Chairman Peter Wilson attributes DeMet’s success to the flexible approach it can take with retailers through its brokers and distributors. “Together with retailers we try to collaborate to become successful instead of simply telling them what they should do with their shelf space,” Wilson says.
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With the second season of his hit show “Fashion Star” having just premiered, celebrity mentor and international fashion icon John Varvatos is spreading his brand to licensed products throughout the world. When he was starting out, there weren’t reality shows handing out design contracts, so his rise to stardom took a more conventional route.
Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983 and was recruited to Calvin Klein in 1990, where he was appointed head of menswear design and oversaw the launch of the men’s collection and the ck brand. In 1995, Varvatos returned to Polo as head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the highly successful Polo Jeans Co.
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Some start-up companies begin operations without the backing of a parent company, but for WINFUNUSA, the situation is much different. Vice President of Operations Tom Salzmann explains that the firm is a branch of Winfat Industrial Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-based toy firm.
“Our goal in establishing this company in the United States is to develop [Winfat’s] WINFUN brand,” he says, noting that Winfat sells products worldwide and has many private-label programs. “We’re at a stage where we want to develop additional products under our own brand name.”
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