GO TEX AN MEMBER NEWS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Ready Ritas: Texas in a Bag
plus working with a co-packer, SIAL China & more. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE O COMMISSIONER SID MILLER
WELCOME TO THE NOVEMBER EDITION OF THE GO TEXAN ROUND-UP INFOLETTER. In this issue we are delighted to shine a spotlight on Ready Ritas. Owner Kathy Thomas found a niche making lime margarita mixes with the school colors of her children (all TCU alumni) and then soon expanded to burnt orange, red, blue, maroon and even crimson. Her mixes are ready to use, simply adding your favorite spirits to the bag, placing in the freezer for a few hours and fresh, colorful, frozen margaritas are easily dispensed out. Like most Texas entrepreneurs I’ve met, she’s been helped along the way by other friendly Texan business owners and she was only too glad to share some of the valuable lessons she’s learned while running a small business in the Lone Star State. We thank her for paying it forward and sharing her wisdom.
Please take a look at all the other information on events and opportunities for you to take advantage of to promote and expand your business. If there are any other ways we can serve you with our GO TEXAN program, please don’t hesitate to contact our great staff. We’re all in this together, and we want nothing more than to promote the products, culture and communities that call Texas home. I hope you enjoy this issue of GO TEXAN Round-Up infoletter. Remember friends, Texas Agriculture Matters! Your servant,
Sid Miller is an eighth generation farmer and rancher and the 12th Commissioner of Agriculture for the great state of Texas. Commissioner Miller has devoted his life to the agriculture industry, and supporting Texas producers and the communities they call home. He is a businessman, rancher, community leader, former ag teacher and former school board member. Commissioner Miller is a rodeo cowboy and holds nine world championship titles. He is an honors graduate of Tarleton State University in Stephenville, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Vocational Agriculture Education. He can be reached at Sid.Miller@TexasAgriculture.gov. 3
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READY RITAS: TEXAS IN A BAG I
f you find yourself tailgating at a college football game in Texas this fall, chances are you’ll see some folks pouring frozen margaritas in their favorite school colors from a ready-made mix bag by Ready Ritas. Whether it’s TCU purple, UT burnt orange, Texas A&M maroon, Texas Tech red or SMU blue, Ready Ritas has got you covered. They’ve even gone so far as to make some CrimsonRitas for the University of Oklahoma. The non-football fan and margarita purist will appreciate their most recent addition to their line of margarita mixes – the traditional light green mix.
Since owner Kathy Thomas’ children all bleed TCU purple, she started making purple margaritas for the TCU tailgates. This went over great with their family and friends. Next, she went after Longhorn burnt orange to appease her UT grad husband, Greg. “Sports fans are very serious about their team colors,” Thomas said. “A true UT fan is very particular about the right color burnt orange. If the mix is a too-bright orange color, well, that’s for an Oklahoma State University fan. My hands would be stained for days as I experimented with the various colors.” 5
After perfecting the burnt orange mix, her friends and family latched on to her idea and began requesting their favorite team colors. That was when she decided to make a business of it – a family business. Being a lawyer, her husband took care of setting up the company. Her sons, Clayton, Colin and daughter, Kristen, have sold many of the colored ritas to their fellow alums and friends. Colin currently works for the company full-time, driving the truck all around the state to sell to retailers and at fairs and markets. They all help with social media. Clayton’s girlfriend, Kahlee Heikenfeld designed the logo, developed the website and produces all of their collateral materials. Kathy’s three sisters and all her nieces and nephews have also chipped in with distribution and selling. Even mom and close friends have gotten in on the act, helping out at tasting events and being a good sounding board for new marketing ideas and general business advice. The challenges have been many – like finding the right ingredients and the right containers – but 6
Kathy has experienced one victory after another. Her biggest step to retail sales was finding a co-packer. She talked to more than 20 different companies in Texas to produce the mix before she found one that agreed to help. “Most everyone was nice, but they had too many projects and could not take on a new client,” Thomas said. “Our unique bag makes the process of filling it a challenge for some manufacturers.” They developed a Shopify website to sell direct to consumers. They then hired a trademark attorney to register their name, followed by conducting a competitive analysis to determine what mixes are on the market and how they are priced. Thomas then wrote down a list of the top reasons a retailer should carry their product and they went out to start selling. “The independent liquor stores and grocers and convenience stores have been very supportive and willing to carry a case of mix to just see if it sells,” Thomas said.
Pictured from left: Kristen Thomas, Peggy Mitchell, Chad Mitchell, Colin Thomas, Kathy Thomas and Luke Pulido at Store Packages Association trade show.
One of the biggest jumps Ready Ritas experienced in earning retail credibility was when they sold and sampled at the GO TEXAN Pavilion at the State Fair of Texas last year. “I thought my company was not big enough to sell at the State Fair,” Thomas said. “I started posting my sampling pictures on social media and everyone started taking the company more seriously.” She was also able to send a picture from the State Fair of Texas to her trademark attorney to show use of the brand in a retail store. As a result, she and her family are very loyal and grateful to GO TEXAN. “When I started looking for a copacker, I went to the gotexan.org website and called and received great advice,” Thomas said. “Everyone
is very helpful. There are many advantages a small business owner receives being part of the program, as they highlight small business owners and help get the word out about your product. The GO TEXAN program is made up of Texans helping Texans to succeed.” With so much love and pride for Texas represented by her company, why did Ready Ritas cross the border, so to speak, and produce CrimsonRitas for the rival Oklahoma Sooners football team? Thomas explained that she felt obligated because of the annual Red River Rivalry matchup in the Cotton Bowl each year. She happily reported that they sell more burnt orange mix than crimson. For more information on Ready Ritas, click here.
IN THE TRUE GO TEXAN SPIRIT OF TEXANS SHARES SOME LESSONS SHEâ€™S LEARNED ALO
TOP THINGS TO KNOW WHEN W 1. There is always a give and take when you work with any vendor. They are the experts in manufacturing and you have to be willing to take their advice at different stages of the process. They will drive you crazy at times! But, it will get easier. If it is not easy, then try another co-packer. It has to be a good working partnership for you to be successful.
3. Since my product was new to the market, I had everyone I talked to sign a nondisclosure agreement. 4. Ask who else they manufacture for and how much time will it take to develop the formula and produce the product.
5. I thought they could just take my recipe and easily make it into the mix. It does not work that 2. Make sure they want the easily or quickly. business. The first meeting could be great, but if they are not 6. Negotiating the contract could getting back to you in a timely take time and you may need an manner, then they may not have attorney to review. time for you in the long run. 7. My co-packer required me to have business insurance. 10
HELPING TEXANS, KATHY THOMAS, OF READY RITAS, ONG THE WAY OF HER JOURNEY.
WORKING WITH A CO-PACKER 8. It just takes time to get the taste right. I tasted several different formulas to get the flavor I wanted. It could take a couple of weeks between each draft of the formula for the co-packer to make a sample. I needed to approve the mix and then approve each color. Make sure your contract provides for more than three tastings of the formula. 9. The taste is different when your recipe calls for fresh ingredients and you make the decision to use a substitute because of the cost. Adding preservatives could also change the taste.
10. Develop a timeline with a realistic production schedule. Everything takes longer than you think it should. To get on my co-packer production schedule, I have to have all my supplies, (labels, bags, boxes, shipping information, food coloring) to them before they even put me on their schedule. 11. Ask Questions. The copacker probably knows the cheapest way to get the product to market. Ask them about cost savings on ingredients, packaging, labels, boxes and shipping.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: HOW TO GET STARTED By Kathy Thomas
here are a million reasons why we can’t do something. You just need to do it! You can learn along the way. Take the plunge. I told myself I would do something every day for the business. I only work on it in the evenings or on the weekends. With the internet it is easy to conduct research on a number of items necessary to start a business. I researched packaging, co-packers, box companies, URls (Uniform Resource Identifier), shipping info and much more. Who needs to sleep? Since many of us do this in our spare time, you need to plan ahead. Develop a six-month calendar for your sales promotions and social media plan. I know now what I am posting in January and February. I may not know the exact picture, but I have a calendar, so I know when I need to have the picture taken to meet the deadline. You just need to S.T.A.R.T. S. — Story What is your story? If you don’t have one, then make one. If you don’t know why you are doing it, then nobody will listen to you. People buy products from people.
Why is the product good? Where did the recipe come from? Why is it important to you to have it manufactured? You will need to have it for your website. T. — Tough Skin You will get a lot of rejections and you have to be the one to get up every day and push the company forward. I contacted 22 co-packers before I found one that will help me. I have heard negative things about the product, but I have heard many more positive things about it and that is what keeps me going! A. — Ask for Help There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Ask family and friends to help with tradeshows, fairs, and sharing the product with their friends. I have gotten some great media exposure because I have asked friends to share my product on their Facebook page. I have a bag of the product in my car at all times. I can easily give some product to anyone who asks about it. Even if they don’t ask for it, give it to them. Since the product is with me most of the time, I can take a picture of it in different settings and easily post it.
Clayton Thomas pictured above.
R. — Rabbit Hole It is hard to start a business. You start spending money on it and you don’t think you can quit! So you spend more money and then you are down the rabbit hole wondering if you should just quit! It is hard to get started, but it is also hard to quit. Make sure you have the courage or craziness to keep going. The job can be physically hard. You have to get up early and set up for a fair, market or tasting. It could be 100 degrees or 35 degrees. My product weighs five pounds a bag, so I am easily carrying around 25 pound boxes.
T. — Team It really take a team to make a business successful. My team consists of my immediate family, my husband (Greg) and three kids (Clayton, Colin and Kristen). It also consists of all my nieces and nephews, three sisters and brother-in-laws. They have all sold product, helped with tastings, worn the shirts and hats to games, asked their friends to send pictures, made signs, packed boxes, and much more. Every little bit does help. Even my 86-year-old mother has helped out at tastings in stores and at the State Fair. My team is also the customer service people at GoDaddy and Shopify! 13
Mark Your Calendar Events & Opportunities for GO TEXAN members
What: IPM Essen 2018 When: Jan. 23-26, 2018 Where: Essen, Germany Details: Offers an opportunity to establish business relations with key buyers in Germany and other countries within the EU. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 463-6507.
What: Gulfood 2018 When: Feb. 18-22, 2018 Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Details: Spots fill up very quickly for this trade show. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 4636507.
What: Expo Antad & Alimentaria When: March 6-8, 2018 Where: Guadalajara, Mexico Details: This expo focuses on many new U.S. export product categories that have grown in Mexico, including processed fruit and vegetables, breakfast cereals, condiments, processed meat products, snack items and alcoholic beverages. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 463-6507. What: FOODEX Japan When: March 6-9, 2018 Where: Tokyo, Japan Details: Exhibit with SUSTA at FOODEX and be a part of the largest food and drink exhibition in Asia. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 463-6507.
What: SIAL China When: May 16-18, 2018 Where: Shanghai, China Details: Great interest in tree nuts, dairy, pork, wine and beer. Registration deadline is Feb. 16, 2018. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 463-6507. What: Inbound Trade Mission to Summer Fancy Food Show When: June 27-28, 2018 Where: Texas and New York, NY Details: The premiere event for food products. This opportunity offers pre-arranged matched one-on-one meetings with key buyers, importers, distributors from Europe. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 463-6507.
What: Fine Food Australia When: Sep. 10-13, 2018 Where: Melbourne, Australia Details: Industry focus is on food service products, ingredients, natural/ health foods, organic and retail products. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 4636507.
What: SIAL Paris When: Oct. 21-25, 2018 Where: Paris, France Details: Every two years, Paris becomes the meeting center for thousands of business visitors from all over the world for this tradeshow. SIAL Paris is one of the largest and most acclaimed food and beverage fairs in the world. Register soon, because this opportunity closes fast. For more information, contact Carlos Guerrero at (512) 4636507.
For a complete list of discounted international events, please follow this link. 16
THE TRADING POST WHERE GO TEXAN MEMBERS CAN BUY, SELL, NETWORK AND TRADE WITH ONE ANOTHER.
Your free classified ad section to advertise your service/product to other members. In search of a service or product that a GO TEXAN member already provides? Find it by networking here. If you have something to list here, email the info (50 words or less) to us, and weâ€™ll include it here in the next infoletter. Business For Sale: Shrub Drinks is on the cusp of growth with huge potential and opportunity. However, the owners (Cathy Tarasovic and Cynthia Guido) are at the sunset of long professional culinary careers and wish to hand the baton off to someone to take this
company to the next level. If you are interested, please visit their website to see if you may be a good fit. For more information, contact Cynthia Guido. Hurricane Harvey Was your business adversely impacted by Hurricane Harvey? Does your business have the ability to help another GO TEXAN member in need? Email us if you have a need or the ability to meet needs and we will be glad to privately introduce you to each other via email.
Members in the News
Canary by Gorji was recently rated by Renzell as the #1 in Dallas for food and hospitality. Chef Gorji is pictured at right. GO TEXAN was highlighted in The Courier of Montgomery County during Texas wine month. Messina Hof was featured on ABC 13 Eyewitness News, highlighting their Resilience wine, the proceeds of which are going to Harvey relief. (Pictured at left is TDAâ€™s Dan Hunter and Paul Bonarrigo and his wife, Karen.) Slaton Bakery was spotlighted on the Bob Phillips Texas Country Reporter program. Bob Phillips is pictured here enjoying the food.
GO TEXAN GALLERY
Congratulations to Carol Elder (pictured here with husband, Scott), owner of Crazy Water, who just received t Institute recognizes the countryâ€™s top brands and manufactuerers, who create first-rate designs to shape powe and Crazy Water glass bottle packaging. Congratulations to Lamar Jones (pictured above with fellow winner, M Diversity Supplier of the Year by H-E-B. Kelly Flock and Kathy Speer of Big Bayou Cocktail Sauce are picture Pioneer Brand at the State Fair of Texas Preview Event.
the 2017 Clear Choice Awards at the national Packaging That Sells Conference. Each year the Glass Packaging erful brand experiences. Crazy Water from Mineral Wells was selected as the winner with its new Crazy Fizz Mark Bradshaw) and his company, The Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce, who was just awarded as this yearâ€™s Supplier ed below sampling at the State Fair of Texas Preview Event. Sid Miller is pictured below with Roger Junkin of
SPOT THE GO TEXAN MARK CHALLENGE Want a fun way to share the best of Texas with the world? Itâ€™s easy! GO TEXAN uses social media tools like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to post GO TEXAN events, share member news and increase awareness of the wide variety of products grown and made right here in the Lone Star State.
Challenge: If you spot the GO TEXAN mark, let us know. Send us a picture of the mark on a product, sign or printed materials, and tell us where you saw it. Be sure to use the GO TEXAN hashtag (#GOTEXAN) when you post, so we can easily share your message, or send us an email.
MEET YOUR FIELD REPRESENTATIVES Trade and Business Development Regions
Trade and Business Development Regions
1. Rob Barthen 7. Jami McCool 1. Jami McCool 1.Rob 7. 7. Jami McCool RobBarthen Barthen 2. Matt Williams 8. Nelda Barrera 2.Carol Matt Williams Nelda Barrera 2. Faulkenberry Nelda Barrera 3. David Kercheval 8. 8. Eggemeyer 9. Chandra 3. David Kercheval Chandra Eggemeyer 9. 3. David Kercheval 9. Chandra Eggemeyer 4. Darrell Dean Bobo 10. Michelle 5. Manuel Martinez 10.10. CarolBobo Faulkenberry 11. 4.Darrell DarrellDean Dean Michelle 4. Michelle Bobo 6. Kristin Lambrecht11. Carol Faulkenberry 5.Manuel ManuelMartinez Martinez 5. 11. Michelle Esper-Martin [Russ Robertson â€“ Director] 6.Kristin KristinLambrecht Lambrecht [Russ Robertson - Director] 6.
Mouse over their photos to see which region each Field Representative serves, and click on their photo to send them an email.
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The latest news, events and opportunities exclusive for GO TEXAN members.