Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Show Deals!!!

When we first started in business, and we exhibited at trade shows, some retailers would come up to our booth and ask us what our show deal was.

My response was, "we sell the same quality natural and organic products as the big brands at everyday prices that are 40% to 50% less than our competition."

"That's nice," was sometimes the response. "So what's the show deal?"

Eventually I offered the following hypothetical example:

"If we normally sell a product for $10 a case everyday...

"We'll offer it to you at $11.11 and give you 10% off.

"If 10% isn't enough of a promotion, we can sell it to you for $12.50, and give you 20% off.

"We could even sell it to you for $13.33 a case, and give you 25% off.

"And my final offer: $14.28 and we'll give you 30% off.

"Which deal would you like?" :)

The reaction was divided into 2 categories...most retailers caught on...but some would actually choose 1 of the above scenarios as "the best."

Amazing, isn't it.

Anyway, I had to post this as I prepare to publish our show deals for Expo East. I finally gave up trying to explain that manufacturers raise their prices so they can deal back...

Jody - Beating The Odds

When Jody first got sick, she was "out of it" - the hospital used the term "confused."

When she first woke up from her coma on January 17th, and I told her it was January 17th, and that I had taken her into the hospital on December 5th, her response was, "you mean I missed Christmas."

"Yes," was the answer..."And New Year's Too."

It was only afterwards that we told her how sick she got and how fortunate we all were that she recovered.

So the other night, after she read my blog post about her, we were discussing the odds of her recovery, and came up with the following: (Thank you Wikipedia and WebMD, I think).

severe sepsis - mortality rates range from 20% for sepsis to 40% for severe sepsis

ARDS - The mortality rate varies from 30% to 85%

Klebsiella - It has a high mortality rate of approximately 50%

I'm not a math major. My math skills ended in the 4th Grade with arithmetic. How do you calculate the odds of a person recovering from all 3 of the above??? My daughter Beki took calculus in school - maybe she can figure it out :).

Anyway, we are all focused on her recovery...thankfully...but it was certainly touch and go there for awhile...

Jody's first haircut since November
Jody getting her hair done in June – for the first time since November.

Jody at Starbucks!
Jody in her first outing after 7 months in the hospital and in bed…where else do you go, but Starbucks?.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I haven't written on the blog about Jody's sickness/illness over the past 10 months. Part of the issue for me is how much of your personal life do you share? But here's a recap.

Last November, Jody's back pain had been getting worse and worse. She was barely able to walk around Thanksgiving and spent most of the weekend in bed. She didn't feel like eating either, and of course, lack of food translates into lack of energy....

We had made several trips to the doctor's office, and the doctors gave her pain pills and muscle relaxers, but it didn't seem to be doing any good.

Finally, on December 5th, the day after her birthday, we went back to the doctor's office, and he sent us to get an MRI at the local hospital.

Well, it turned out that she had sepsis (severe sepsis), ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), and some of the clots that had developed in her stomach got into her lungs. She was in the hospital for 9 weeks as they worked on her - and went through being intubated and when that didn't work, they performed a tracheotomy.

When she left the hospital on February 12th, she was bedbound for the next 3 months. They needed for her to get some of her strength back before they could do reconstructive back surgery, to fix the holes in her spine from the sepsis. That surgery was on May 11th, and after another month in bed, she was able to sit for short periods of time, which then progressed to some walking.
Spine Surgery
Pictures of Jody’s new spine…rods and screws hold her new cemented spine to the existing one.

On June 12th, a month after her surgery, she got a cane, ditched the walker, and soon thereafter began aqua therapy, which she does 3 times a week. She is still doing aqua therapy and has just started riding a stationery bike.

Jody's new cane

My new cane - pink wth blue and purple flowers.

Of course, while she was in the hospital, all NV business pretty much ground to a halt. I was able to communicate via text messages from the hospital, but that really is no way to run a business...

Since February, Jody has had a full time personal assistant, Pearl, who helps Jody with everything...and I mean everything! Just taking Jody to her therapy appointments, doctor's appointments, weekly blood tests for her Coumadin has meant that I can start working again...and that doesn't include what Pearl does in helping out with bathroom stuff, bathing, meal prep and shopping, keeping track of medications, both ordering them from the pharmacy and picking them up and giving them to Jody...making doctor's appointments, etc...She's been a godsend....Thanks, Pearl.

I also found someone wonderful, Linda, to update the web page and she also helped me set up this blog. Jody always wanted to update the website but we realized it was going to be a long time before she would be able to work again...all I can say is thanks, Linda.

Graphic Designer Web, and Print

As I have talked with people, its incredible how many families have similar stories of family illness...and all of the issues and problems they go through dealing with them. When you're healthy, you don't think about these things. When Jody was in the hospital, our next door neighbors brought me was wonderful. After spending 8-10-12-14 hours a day at the hospital, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook.

I hope this explains why i haven't been able to respond to recent inquiries in my normally prompt manner.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 reviews our Natural Value 100% Organic Popcorn

Natural Value, A Product That Lives Up To It’s Name!

Picking up the bag in the market is when this company “had me”. The graphics clearly tell what’s inside, but it was the feel of the bag that convinced me to try Natural Value 100% Organic Popcorn. This bag is much thicker than different brands of popcorn with poly-bags, ensuring that the correct amount of moisture remains inside each kernel. Customers of premium products expect resealable bags and Nature Value comes through in this department as well.

The popcorn kernels are large, producing very large flakes. Natural Value appears to have gone after the all around popcorn when it comes to taste. Both their yellow and white varieties have earthy, balanced aromas and tastes that you come to expect from quality organic popcorn. For general snacking or for recipes, this popcorn does it all!
Natural Value's 100% Organic Yellow Popcorn
Natural Value popcorn is certified organic and kosher and is GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) free! They mean it when they say “natural”!

Another thing I like about Natural Value is their commitment to fair trade and manufacturing entirely in the United States. The company’s mission statement tells us, “We pick a manufacturer, pay them a fair price, and then stick with them. We don’t shop around for packers just to save a few cents and we aren’t moving our manufacturing business to China.”

In an era when the Food and Drug Administration has a harder and harder time protecting the American food supply, I think it’s important to patronize companies that are committed to ethical policies and practices. If you’re looking for different brands of popcorn, Natural Value is a must try that you can feel great about serving to your family! This is Primo Popcorn!
Natural Value's 100% Organic Popcorn

Friday, August 14, 2009

My cat is "ELLIS"

Hello Gary,

As the founder of your company I thought you would like to know about this. My cat is "ELLIS" and he won the Meow Mix Contest on Animal Planet in 2006. He's America's Top Cat (voted that way). Here's the catch, he will only eat your cat food. He will only eat the two tuna varieties you make in the blue and pink cans. I actually drive across town twice a month to the store that carries it to buy it.

You make a great product. Keep up the great work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We've Eliminated the Plastic Scoop...

...from our 11 lb Natural Value Detergent Powder. (We never had one in the 5 lb Detergent Powder).

When we first started producing the detergent, our supplier suggested we include a plastic scoop, and we did.

About a month ago, a consumer wrote in and asked why we were still putting a plastic scoop in our detergent box. I wrote back that we had been doing it for years and years, and really hadn't thought about it...but now that they brought it up, we would discontinue doing that.

So the plastic scoop is gone!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shrinking Package Sizes

In the last year, lots of manufacturers have shrunk their package sizes in lieu of raising prices.

We've noticed that 4 packs bathroom tissue seems to be one of those pack sizes that shrinks...a lot.

Our 4 pack regular rolls have been 250 count sheets for quite some time. Our competitor's sheet counts have dropped to the 180's and 170's. Same with our "double rolls" - we remain at 400 sheets per roll...but apparently, the new "standard" is 352 sheets per roll. Who chose that number, anyway?

Same thing has happened with canned tuna. We are still at 6oz cans. Many of our competitors have gone to 5oz cans for the same price.

And Organic pasta! Our Organic pasta has always been in 1 lb packages - just like our biggest competitor. Now they have downsized to 12 oz, 10 oz and even 9oz packages. We're keeping our pasta in 1 lb packages.

We're looking at producing Organic Macaroni and Cheese. The standard used to be 7 1/2 ounces - 6 ounces of pasta and 1 1/2 ounces of cheese. Now the whole package is 6 oz.

Are consumers fooled by these downsized packages? I don't think so.

We're going to keep doing what we're doing, and not downsize our packages, as long as we can.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What happened to the Walnut Scrubber Sponge?

Years ago, we started working with this family business that produced scrubber sponges. We then worked with them to develop a scrubber made from walnut shells - which we thought would be just as abrasive, yet more environmentally friendly, as nylon. We were right. Our test kitchen (read:home kitchen) results showed the walnut scrubbers lasted as long as the nylon scrubbers.

Unfortunately, the company making our scrubbers got bought out, and the new company decided that they weren't interested in the "niche business" of making a walnut scrubber, so for now, they have been discontinued.

We are working with a new supplier to develop a walnut scrubber. and have received a few samples that we are using, and have sent out to some folks to try. We hope to have them back on the market shortly.

Lidia, one of our product testers, using our new Walnut Scrubber Sponge

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My first blog post

Welcome to my first blog post. Where do I begin? At the beginning? No, how about as of today. Seriously, I am looking forward to first job back in the, ahem, 70's, I was a magazine I hope I remember how to write. I plan to write every day and welcome your responses...thanks...gary