Kar’s Nuts Focuses on Relationships While Expanding to 75 Stores

By Kyle Pollock on September 5th, 2013 / Comments

Entrepreneurs and business owners begin a movement with one vision. They lead a group of people to provide a value for customers, and that value should keep customers returning again and again. When that happens, the value is sometimes protected and held onto. More money is added to increase the value and attention is turned to how to spend the money. Pretty soon the entrepreneur or owner stops pushing the value forward and the movement comes to a stop.

Many entrepreneurs face distractions and don’t continually push their product or service forward in a competitive market. Nick Nicolay, CEO of Kar’s Nuts, a Michigan based nut and snack manufacturer, knew he had to keep his movement by focusing on the growth of his value and dropping the distractions.

Kar’s Nuts naturally moved towards each next market opportunity. As a food company it would only be fitting to grow business organically. Relationships take time to develop, and each new market begins with personal relationship. Kar’s had grown into a new market every decade including: local neighborhood drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, the vending industry, and wholesale clubs. The current growing opportunity has been trail mix. Unlike the other markets, trail mix is product-oriented. That may be due to a big change that Kar’s made within the company.

Kar’s had control of both their manufacturing and distribution of their product. This allowed opportunities to strategically distribution to different venders. However, Nick knew how they could reach higher and grow faster as a small business. “We knew the best chance for us to keep up with big players like Sams club, we would have to focus on manufacturing.” Kar’s did exactly that and outsourced their distribution to intensify their efforts and strategies on manufacturing.

What is it like getting your product into stores? Nick said it was a lot of relationship building with each store broker. “You have to be very persistent, you have to believe in your product and really want it in their stores.” Sales are on a two year cycle and retailers will compete an annual review of each product on their shelves.

Kar’s continues to break into the top 75 supermarket chains around the country and grow their product.

Nick ended with some simple advice for beginning entrepreneurs stresssing the importance of focusing on selling first and building a business.

“Fundraising can be a waste of time,” He said. “Focus on building your business and relationships. Be looking for new markets, move fast and learn from your mistakes.”

Some entrepreneurs or business owners would would say fundraising is absolutely necessary for growth or to start out, but perhaps some companies need to take a second look at what they have now. Maybe it is enough so they can begin to provide their value. In a country where wanting to have more is the social norm, maybe we should use what we have been given, how to provide more to others and begin to establish relationships.

About the Author

Kyle Pollock

Formerly with Booklify, he is a freelance writer, web designer, and enjoys different cultures. He sports Vibram FiveFingers on his runs and is a big fan of Michigan family owned businesses. He is an MSU graduate with a degree in Professional Writing.