Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Products

Many times, we added new items that were requested by our retailer customers..."you are selling me this, can you get me that." So we would look for that, so we could sell it with this.

In addition, there were many products in the marketplace that I saw and wanted to produce under our own label. One of those categories was brown paper....specifically, brown paper towels and brown napkins.

It was hard to find them. It isn't the number one product that paper marketers are looking to produce.

Several years ago, one of the largest private label paper manufacturers said he could produce brown towels for me, so I invited him to our home office for a chat, and to see if we could do some business. He told me our volume wasn't big enough to do business with them on brown products, but if we could give him all of our business, he would see what he could do.

I told him that we didn't operate that way. I told him that our existing supplier took us on when we were very small, worked with us, built up our business, and I wouldn't and couldn't just take all of the business away from him after all these years. We just didn't do business that way, and if it meant they wouldn't do business with me, that was fine.

Then several months ago, another paper supplier said they could do brown paper towels, so i hopped on a plane to go see them. Yep, they were doing brown paper towels all right and would be happy to pack them for me, but wanted to know if I could sell 2500 cases a month! Nope, I said. I would love to sell 2500 cases a month but i just don't see that happening at the beginning of our relationship. So once again, I was too small.

It's interesting - I always tell these potential suppliers - anybody can buy a truckload of anything...the question is, can you SELL a truckload of it...

Finally, a few months ago, our existing paper supplier managed to source brown paper towels...made from recycled cardboard. Eureka, he cried!

We will have them shortly...nearby is a prototype in unlabeled poly wrap.

At about the same time, a different supplier said they could sell us brown kraft dinner napkins. But they don't have retail packaging, and the packaging is in a plastic film bag that is knotted and taped - not heat sealed. That isn't going to work, I told them...the package needs to be we are still looking for that.

We started off 15 years ago with 25 products and we have grown over the years to several hundred products.

Anyway, sometimes it takes us years to source and produce the products we want to do...which is especially true in this case.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Closing in on 2 Million Lifetime United Miles

Slowly but surely racking up those miles...

Lifetime flight miles since joining on Jun. 09, 1989:

1,803,898 Lifetime flight miles.


Sorry I haven't kept up on the blogging for awhile...

I have started traveling again - Tabletop shows, Business Travel, Meeting new brokers.

and I sometimes wonder what happens when I am least I know what happens to my outside chair.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bisphenol A

We are asked pretty regularly if our steel cans contain Bisphenol A (or BPA). The answer is yes.

BPA had been considered a safe lining for cans for the last 50 – 60 years. New research is saying that is not the case.

The can manufacturers have taken the position that BPA is safe. When our canners send me their latest press releases stating that, I respond telling them they are on the wrong side of the issue.

Right now, a commercially viable alternative to existing BPA free cans does not exist. There isn’t a large supply available.

The biggest issue for the commercial canners, as I understand it, is taking BPA out of the cans is going to reduce the shelf life. I tell the canners, “fine.”

We, like everyone else in the Natural/Organic industry, are looking at alternatives. On our canned beans, for example, we are looking at aseptic packaging.

We also were told by our Pate cat food manufacturer that there is no BPA in aluminum cans, so our Pate cat foods are BPA free.

In the next few months, we will have another part of our product line switched from cans with BPA to BPA free cans. We will, of course, announce that on our web site.

I know it isn’t the answer consumers are looking for, but the can industry in the United States is not in a position to stop producing cans with BPA or to switch to an alternative. Their customers – the food manufacturers and big chain store retailers, are, generally speaking, not willing to accept the price increases that will come with using BPA free cans. When one of the “big boys” announces that they are ditching cans with BPA, it is my opinion that the entire can industry will move in that direction. But we are not there yet.