Remember when salsa overthrew ketchup to become the reigning condiment champ a few years back? It might have come as a shock to many french fry dipping fans at the time but to Mark Risen, who’s been churning out his homemade salsa recipe for 20 years, this comes as no surprise. For two decades, people who tasted Mark’s salsa have told him to start his own salsa business. Mark dabbled into the idea in 2005 but wasn’t able to fully commit due to his obligation as a high school teacher and coach. It wasn’t until this past summer when Mark gave in and decided to launch his own business, appropriately naming it Coach’s Salsa.
Finding a Market for Coach’s Salsa
Mark knew from the start that he wanted to market his salsa as a fundraising and online retail product. His family had been participating in fundraisers with the kids for the past ten years and turning the salsa into a fundraising product seemed like a perfect fit. Plus, no other salsa company was selling refrigerated salsa as a fundraising item, which gave his product a unique edge.
Building the Business
With a marketplace identified, the real work began with choosing and building a production facility. Mark’s family owns a farm in the northern Willamette Valley of Oregon, which made it easy for him to use the farm as the production facility for his product. It took four months for the facility to be completed.
It was during this process that Mark decided to not only package his product on the farm but to grow many of the vegetables used in the salsa there as well. Mark explains, “Coach’s Salsa’s incredible flavor is largely a result of our unique small batch processing and the quality of ingredients we put in every jar.”
Packaging is Key
The next step to making Mark’s dream come true was dealing with the packaging end of Coach’s Salsa. Mark and his wife Julie decided they wanted to use plastic quart jars for the salsa since the container was less likely to break if a child were to drop it, and they also believed customers would get their money’s worth with a larger jar. With this container in mind, Mark began the month long online search for the right plastic jar distributor for his product. He came upon The Cary Company during one of these searches and called Charles Williams, an inside salesman to inquire about the 32 oz. oblong plastic jar with handle. Mark was thrilled. “Charles was great. He offered endless technical advice about the jars, their seals, and the materials used to manufacture them.”
During one of these conversations, Charles referred Mark to The Cary Company’s creative department, which has a design service available to businesses that want to have images designed, printed, and applied to their products. The art director, Mark Johnson helmed the project and a match made in heaven ensued. Mark Risen noted that, “Mark Johnson went to great lengths to ensure everything he designed was very professional, created an identity for our company, and more importantly, branded us! Eventually, Mark would design all three of our front labels and helped to name them (Flavorful Mild, Zesty Medium, and Savory Hot), our back labels, business cards, marketing postcards, custom product photo shoot, and our fundraiser tracking sheet. This gave us an incredibly professional image, one that looks as though we are a major manufacturer! It was very affordable as well.”
The Taste of Success
With the technical and artistic image complete, Mark Risen set his sights on creating what he does best, his homemade salsa. Mark explains, “We only make Coach’s Salsa in small batches. This provides us with even greater quality control while also allowing us to deliver our salsa at the peak of freshness, thus guaranteeing that every bite meets our commitment to excellence. We try to get our salsa to your taste buds within 48 hours of production (hence the shipping costs).” Coach’s Salsa officially began sales last month and the business venture has already handed out hundreds of Coach’s Salsa to the public.
As any entrepreneur would tell you, Coach’s Salsa holds a special place in Mark’s heart. It’s the passion for his product that keeps him moving forward. Mark always likes to make sure his customers know that, “When our family made the commitment to roll out our unique business model, we decided that honoring people who work with kids was a very important value to our company. Coach’s Salsa is a tribute to everyone that has ever mentored, advised, helped, directed, guided or coached kids. It’s our family’s ongoing way of saying thank you for all you do.”
If that doesn’t say bon appétit, we don’t know what else would!
Want to be featured in the next month’s Customer Spotlight? Email The Cary Company with information on what you or your business has done with any of our products and include a picture. We’ll contact you for further details if your item qualifies.