Have you ever seen a Tofurky in the wild? Come explore how the brand with a funny name pioneered the fastest growing food trend and helped launch the plant-based phenomenon. Learn how this Earth friendly movement is changing the way we eat.

Tofurky tofurky.com 

In Search of the Wild Tofurky: How a Business Misfit Pioneered Plant-Based Foods Before They Were Cool     www.tofurky.com/book

BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #185

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #185

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.

LETS ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES AND GET STARTED!

Dan: Welcome. Today I've got a special treat for you. I think this is going to be one of the best interviews I've ever had. Today I talked to Seth with Tofurky, and what's great about today's interview is this is exactly why I do this, to talk about thought leaders. So it is disrupting the category. People that started out on a mission to create a product and change the way we think about healthy food. More importantly, the mission that he has behind his products and how that mission carries forward to everything that he does within his company. And how Tofurky carved out a unique category, created a category at retail, and gave retailers the opportunity to serve customers that were being ignored previously.

Dan: A lot of customers are looking for plant-based products, Not necessarily all vegans. Flexitarians. This is a group of customers that are driving sustainable sales across every category by looking for unique products. Looking for products that are plant-based is learning about an alternative protein source. Something made from plants. And as Seth says, we're cutting out the middleman. And one of the reasons this matters so much, whether you're an animal rights activist or not, is because when you feed an animal grain or hair, things they're not supposed to eat, or a lot of water to get milk, you feed that animal a lot more than you get back in return.

Dan: You're definitely going to enjoy this episode. This episode is one of my new favorites. One of the things we talked about is how brands need to go to market. A different way of financing your brand that's not what we necessarily teach at the natural products business schools or natural products expos, et cetera. It's all about grit. It's all about stick-to-itiveness and how you can, with the right mission behind you, change the world.

Dan: In this podcast episode, you're going to learn what Seth did to disrupt the category. These are simple strategies that you can adopt. And if you stick with this, and if you have the right kind of mission in mind, and you can bring the right people into your circle into your community, you can change the world. This is what we need to celebrate more in the natural community. Instead of focusing on velocity, instead of focusing on a lot of the metrics that really overlook what makes natural natural, this is what's important.

Dan: In other words, the customer you bring into that retail store is far more valuable to the retailer than a lot of the other things you're expected to pay for - different promotions, et cetera - that do nothing to help the retailer compete more effectively in their market. We'll cover a little bit more about that in this episode and other podcast episodes.

Dan: As always, I'm going to thank you for listening. This show is about you and it's for you. In appreciation for your time, there's a free downloadable guide for you at the end of every podcast episode. I always include one easy to download, quick to digest strategy. One that you can instantly bake into your brand's DNA to help you gain a significant competitive advantage. Remember, the goal here is to help you get your product onto more store shelves and into hands of more shoppers.

Dan: And don't forget to go back and listen to previous episodes where I may solve some of your most pressing bottlenecks. And also don't forget to check out my new YouTube channel where you'll see a lot of the interviews that you hear about on this podcast on the YouTube channel, as well as a lot of other brand-building content. And be the first to subscribe there so you get the new brand-building content as soon as it becomes available.

Dan: Now, here's Seth. Seth, thank you for coming on today. Could you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself? I love your story so I hope you get into it and kind of talk about how your humble beginnings and how you became an overnight success 20, 30 years in the making.

Seth: Yeah, that's a good way to start. Well, yeah. I'm the chairman and founder of the Tofurky company which I started in 1980 as a tempeh company in Forest Grove, Oregon, which is about half hour West of Portland, Oregon. And I didn't know anything about business. I was a Teacher Naturalist out of college. That's what I had been trained for. And when Ronald Reagan came into power in 1980, a lot of these environmental jobs that I'd been doing were no longer in favor and so I needed something to do.

Seth: And I had found tempeh three years ago while visiting The Farm in Tennessee, which was a spiritual commune of 1,200 hippies that were eating a vegan diet, although they called it a pure vegetarian diet back then. The word vegan really wasn't in use in 1980. So they were pure vegetarians. And I was a vegetarian and I had been eating these soy grit burgers, which were just little bits of soybeans that were ground up, and I would mash them into with wheat flour to hold them together and spices and stuff.

Seth: And they didn't taste that great. But they digested worse and they were really tough to eat. So I heard about... I read about it in the farm literature, this tempeh product. They said, "Oh, on the farm everybody loves the tempeh and it's so delicious and very digestible". And I was like, "Whoa. A soy product that tastes good and is digestible. Well, I got to get some of this".

Seth: So I went to the farm and that's where I got the starter, and I made the first batch of tempeh in Tennessee in the summer of 1977. Tempeh's from Indonesia. It's fermented food from Indonesia. And Tennessee's very Indonesia-like in the summer. So I made, and fell in love with, tempeh then and opened up the business in 1980 on $2,500 of my eight-year savings of naturalist money. So...

Dan: That's not a lot of money. So let me ask you, so you went to Nashville to try the tempeh? Did I understand that correctly?

Seth: Well, yeah. I got a job actually near Greenville, Tennessee in east Tennessee teaching in the Youth Conservation Corps. We would get high school kids, and I was hired as an environmental ed specialist. So I was teaching them about the environment and outdoor education during the week. And then on the weekends, the kids all went home. They were doing work projects in the national forest during the week, and then getting into this environmental education.

Seth: And we were all living on a golf course in these big army tents, and I had heard about the farm and that was like five hours away. It's about an hour and a half south of Nashville. And so we, on the first weekend I could, I went over there and with a couple of other friends and talked my way into a visit, staying overnight there and just learned a little bit about what they were doing and got paid three bucks for some of the secret tempeh starter.

Seth: They had just started making tempeh at that point. And tempeh was first discovered by American scientists at Cornell University after they noticed in Indonesia that in the World War II, the concentration camps over there had... The ones that had tempeh in it had a lower incidence of dysentery and a higher survival rate than they attributed to the tempeh. Because you can cook soybeans on a stove and water for literally a week and not get them as tender and as digestible as tempeh makes these beans in 24 hours after you've cooked the beans for only about an hour. So with firewood being really scarce in these camps, you didn't have to cook them so long. You just cooked them for a short period of time, relatively, and then incubated them and then they became tempeh.

Seth: So that's where the farm had learned about tempeh was from Clifford Hesseltine it was a professor at Cornell University because they grew all these soybeans. They were vegetarians and vegans, and so they needed to feed all these people. And so they were feeding them tofu, soy milk, tempeh and all these, at the time, cutting edge soy products. Even an ice bean so it was an amazing place.

Dan: Well, okay. So tempeh, let's talk a little bit about that. It's made with ferment with bacteria. So where do you get the bacteria? And you were talking about-

Seth: It's actually mold. Yeah.

Dan: A mold? Okay.

Seth: Not bacteria. Yeah.

Dan: Okay. So where do you get it?

Seth: We make our own right now, but there are several places. Actually, we still on occasion will buy a tempeh starter from the farm which has a tempeh lab, but there are several other labs. Tempehsure.com has a really good starter, and the farm does too, and several other places. So, but tempeh needs this mold to grow for like 24 hours after you cook the beans, and the mycelium of this mold binds the beans together into this cake so that you can cut tempeh like razor-thin, really, after it's done and it'll stick together.

Seth: Whereas tofu, you can't cut it that thin, and you kind of crumble. And tempeh has about twice the protein of tofu because you're eating the whole bean and not the milk of the bean. And by the way, you could make tempeh out of really any grain or bean as long as you remove the hull, which is on there to protect the seed from mold or bacteria or anything getting in there. And of course, with tempeh, you want the culture to get in there and pre-digest the enzymes and the proteins.

Seth: And tempeh is actually one of the highest, easiest proteins to be assimilated by the human body. It's very easy on the system and it's delicious too. It has its own texture and flavor that isn't really trying to imitate anything. It's just its own unique flavor, but it's just widely consumed and revered all over Indonesia. They make tofu in Indonesia, too, as they do throughout Asia. Of course, before it came to the U.S., but tempeh is very localized for the most part in Indonesia and hasn't really spread out through Asia.

Seth: And in this country, the first tofu shop was in Portland, Oregon. Ota tofu and that was 1905. And so tofu has been in this country for a very long time, but tempeh has the first commercial tempeh shop was in Lincoln, Nebraska. And I think it was 1976, so a lot shorter time and a lot narrower ethnic following for tempeh than tofu.

Dan: Kind of an interesting theme. Kind of in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "Who thought about putting mold on their food to make it taste better"? It's, yeah, I mean back when it was made. But it's interesting how from a nutritional standpoint it provides more nutrients. So okay, let me dig a little bit deeper. Soy is something a lot of people have trouble digesting. How does that compare to tempeh? Is it easier for your body to digest it and metabolize it?

Seth: Actually, yes. And people that do have problems digesting soy are often... There are really two kinds of major kinds of soy that we call. There's the industrial form of soy, which is the soy protein isolates and concentrates, and sort of like a modern technological form that is actually... That they separate the proteins from the starch of the beans with hexane, which is a commercial. It's an ingredient in gasoline and it goes off.

Seth: When you make the isolates, it evaporates. But there's still parts per million and everything. So we tend to go with tofu and tempeh, which are what we call the traditional lightly-processed forms of soy. And tempeh, being the fermented process, really helps the digestion. And I have a lot of people that do have trouble with the other forms of soy that say, "Well tempeh, I don't have that same problem with". So it is a more digestible form of soy.

Dan: I appreciate your sharing that because I know a lot of people that love soy but do have problems. And I love soy, but yet I do feel fuller, heavier sometimes when I drink or eat soy. So I'm going to have to try. I've had tempeh. I didn't put the two and two together like that. So that's interesting. So thank you for sharing that. So... go ahead. That-

Seth: Well it's interesting that you say that. If I could jump in here because we make a tempeh burger. We grow the beans into the shape of a burger, and then we marinate them in soy sauce, and garlic, and onion, and we sell them in foodservice. It's just a very laborious process so it's hard to scale that up. We had them in retail but we took them off.

Seth: But when I eat, I love the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger. But for me, the feeling after eating one of those is heavier like you describe with soy. But with tempeh, I don't get that feeling at all. When I eat tempeh it just feels a lot better in my gut than the fancier "bleeding" burger kind of things do that have, I think, more oil and fat in them. So it might be that because of tempeh very low in fat. It's a low-fat burger. So anyway, just the opposite for me.

Dan: That's interesting. Well, and since some of them are made out of pea protein, getting way off the topic, but yet I know some companies that put pea protein and other things. And I think it's thicker. It's globbier sort of like gluten from a bread. So when you're talking about tempeh and tofurkey, tofu, et cetera, is that the glue that you guys use to hold everything together? Is that fair to say?

Seth: Well, different products hold differently. Yeah, like tempeh is held together with the mycelium. And with tofu and Tofurky, it's held together mostly with the Vital Wheat Gluten, which is the protein part of the wheat, so. And a lot of the products that are like the Beyond Burger and Impossible burger have gums and different things that hold them together. And that's the cool thing about tempeh is that it's this natural process that just is binding the beans together overnight, and keeps them really solidified and has just a wonderful texture.

Dan: It does. It does. So mycelium, is that from mushrooms?

Seth: Yeah. That's like the roots of the mold culture. I mean, mushrooms are fungi, and molds are a different category. And it's scary to people, but it's actually a very probiotic and one of the good guys to go in your stomach. And it's a wonderful product.

Dan: They are. And on that note, a lot of people don't realize that a lot of the products, not a lot of, some of the products that are coming out today are filtered through the mycelium, through mushrooms, effectively. So it removes the bitterness and it changes the taste profile. Where I'm going with that is I wonder how much of an impact that has on changing the structure from soy to what you're saying, talking about tempeh. And where I'm going with that is it creates a more neutral flavor that can adopt, and a flavor's not the right word, a more neutral palette. So it can adopt other flavors, which is one of the cool things I love about what you guys are able to do. Any thoughts?

Seth: Yeah, I can't speak to those products filtered through that because we don't really use them. Although we do use some extracts like mushroom extracts and things like that as a flavoring. But I do think that there's a vast difference between the traditional processed forms of soy which have been in use and being consumed cultures throughout the world for centuries and prove themselves to be healthy and a good protein. But it's a little more... I think the juries can still be out on some of the effects of the more industrialized forms of soy. But I think that I'm just an old tempeh guy for starters just because I just love the way that my body feels. And I've seen people just really respond to tempeh well over the years.

Dan: Thank you for sharing all that. And I was thinking about is the, not you filtering but as sort of a natural attribute to that. And where I'm going with that is the different flavors that you guys have, how something can assimilate, or take on the flavor profile of something a lot easier. And I'm wondering if that has something to do with it. So, anyhow. I love what you guys are able to create.

Dan: So you became tempeh, farmer's not the right word, but you start cooking tempeh. Can you talk a little bit about your journey? And talk about you lived in a treehouse, the way you put it together. You made almost nothing for years, and years, and years trying to build this business up. And then you had the support of the community and stuff like that. Can you talk about that?

Dan: And the reason I wanted to go here, Seth, is that one of the things that makes natural natural is that we're all working together toward a common goal. And in your situation, you're trying to provide nutrients to people that are the vegans. You've got a product that is better for the environment, better for the climate, et cetera. And then you've also, you're on a mission. So can you talk about some of that aspect of your journey?

Seth: Yeah, sure. And first I want to say, yeah we love the vegan sector, but there's also the bigger sector. What is really driving a lot of the growth now is this flexitarian sector where people that are eating like half or more of their meals meatless every day and every week. But yeah. In 1980 when I started the natural foods industry was really very infant, and it was in its infancy. You really couldn't get many natural foods in 1980 in supermarkets. It was really kind of confined just to co-ops and natural food stores, which still, is obviously an important base of...

Seth: ... is still is obviously an important base of our sales in the industry. But in order to get, for instance, tofu, you had to go to the co-op. And in 1980, I rented a kitchen at night. It wasn't being used in my local co-op at night, and I paid them $25 a month to be in there from 4:00 in the afternoon when they closed up for the day to 7:00 the next morning. And so I was able to make a hundred pounds of tempeh during an eight-hour shift by myself, which then I took around to the natural food stores in Portland. And Portland at that time had... I mean, Whole Foods actually was just being started in 1980. John Mackey started the same year in 1980 that I did. There wasn't much infrastructure, the natural food stores were for the most part kind of still dark ages.

Seth: And by dark, I mean not really good lighting and warped wooden floors, old secondhand refrigeration equipment and stuff like that, big bins of grains and stuff. So I cut my teeth delivering in my three-door Datsun station wagon, which had been in an accident and had been t-boned in the front door. The driver's side door was missing and I bungee-corded a makeshift door just so I wouldn't fall out when I was driving.

Seth: But it was interesting to just not be able to find any plant-based foods. There were no cheeses, no milk, not even tofu in the supermarket channel. So you really had to go to the co-ops. The co-op that I was working in would make the tofu sell. They'd buy it in these great big white five-gallon buckets, which had a plastic bag, and it had all the tofu swimming in it.

Seth: And then the volunteers would reach in there, and they'd fish out a cake of tofu, and they'd put it in a Chinese restaurant container that they had bought, and they'd scribble on it, tofu. And so that gives you the idea of that. And the other thing was, without a category in the supermarkets, there was no investment banker, venture capital community, willing to come over and give me a helping hand and invest in my little tempeh dream.

Seth: I go to these trade shows now, and it's kind of thrilling to see these small startups that just don't really have many sales now, but they have a product, are all attracting investment, because it's a hot category and there are people willing to take a chance. Well, there was no category then, so it was really just self-funding the business.

Seth: And then my brother stepped in and loaned me $5,000 of his retirement savings. He had $8,000. And so now I really had to get to work. And so that was really nice of him. And he's been with me, still, this whole way and really been generous. Before I could go to banks, I would go to him, and I'd borrow money and I'd pay it back and borrow some more. So I had a revolving line of credit with my brother.

Seth: But yeah, the first nine years of making tempeh were really lean years financially. And I did take home $31,000 in nine years, the first nine years. That was total. That wasn't 31,000 a year, which would have been still tough. But anyway, so not making any money, I did a lot of creative things. I lived in trailers and tents and teepees and built my own treehouse in these four trees that I rented for 25 bucks a month also. 25 bucks a month seems to be a magic number for me. I don't know why.

Seth: And it was growing, and the natural food sector was growing in the 1980s as well. But having tempeh, it wasn't really a unique product, because there were other tempeh makers. There was Lightlife, who you may know now as a part of Maple Leaf Foods. They started out as a tempeh company on the East Coast, and they learned about tempeh at the farm also.

Seth: So there were other tempeh makers throughout the country that were providing regional tempeh. And so I was having trouble expanding, really making enough money to make a profit. But I was really mission-driven. I wanted to see low on the food chain proteins that you didn't have to feed through animals, feeding them right to people. And that was my mission. And the mission really kept me going while the money wasn't really there. But I actually rented out a school building 10 miles from where I live right now, that was sitting vacant, and that became my incubator space.

Seth: And I had a commercial kitchen and a gym and four classrooms that I rented for 150 bucks a month, which was amazing and out in the country. And it was a little rural school. And we just had some wild times there. We were selling to the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Have you seen the Wild Wild Country documentary about the Bhagwan?

Dan: No, I'm sorry. I haven't. I'll have to check that out.

Seth: Yeah, they were a commune in Oregon in the 1980s, and they were red-clad, they had the followers, and they had bought an old cattle ranch that was in pretty bad shape from overgrazing. And they were vegetarians, so they were having this big guru festival where they were bringing in all these followers of the Bhagwan to Oregon in 1983, and they found me and they said, "Can you make us tempeh for this big meal?"

Seth: And so I made them 2000 pounds of tempeh, which was a huge order. It was about what I was making in a whole month. And I drove it over there, and we watched them cook up, which is probably the biggest tempeh meal in US history still. But they had 10,000 of their followers chowing down on Turtle Island tempeh.

Seth: And so that was a big thing. And I went back there several other times to deliver tempeh. So they were good years. It was really, when I look back, very enjoyable years. You don't need a whole lot of money to have a lot of fun. And we rented classroom out to various people, including a traveling troop of circus clowns that tuned pianos when the clowning business was soft, which was all the time. And it was just kind of a Fellini-like life out there in the woods, making tempeh and living in a tree and circus clowns running around everywhere.

Seth: So I did that for about, well, till 1990. And in 1990, I started feeling like, even in spite of the business growing a little bit, I was just questioning whether I was going to be able to turn this around and actually make a profit and a living wage for myself and, really, employees. I wasn't really able to pay much of a salary or benefit. We were more like a cottage industry than we were a small business at that point.

Seth: So I started to look for a way out. And one of my projects was, by living in the treehouse, I had met all of these other treehouse dwellers, and I started to write a proposal for a treehouse book. And I was going all around the country and filming tree houses and writing up stories about them. I had one treehouse that actually turned out to be built by a bank robber who robbed 40 banks in Seattle. And we were out there filming his treehouse. We didn't know he was a robber. But that project didn't take hold with a book publisher, couldn't find a publisher. So I went back to trying to make tempeh. And in 1995, we pivoted to the first Tofurky roast.

Dan: So it's interesting that you didn't deviate, but you tried to create a new revenue stream while you're doing this. How did that impact the business? I mean, you had people there that are able to still keep doing what you were doing?

Seth: Yeah. So we were still making tempeh. And at that point, we had moved the business over to Hood River out of the schoolhouse. And we were doing better but still weren't profitable at all. Sorry about the phone interruption.

Dan: No worries.

Seth: And so I was delivering tempeh one day in Portland to one of my friends, Hans Wrobel of The Higher Taste, and he was making a stuffed tofu roast for Thanksgiving. This was October and just before the holiday. And I was questioning him about it, and he said, "Oh, yeah. I'm going to sell 50 of these at $50 a pop to some of my best customers," and there's a little stuffed tofu roast and gravy. So I bought one, and it was good. And I said, "Let's go into business, Hans. I think this is something that the world is waiting for," because as a vegetarian, I had had all these failed Thanksgiving treats that we had made.

Seth: We had a gluten roast that you couldn't cut with a chainsaw that we worked all day on to make. And I had a stuffed pumpkin that collapsed in the oven, and it was just a mess. So I always wanted something to eat, because Thanksgiving, for me, as a vegetarian, everybody was like, "Happy turkey day." And I was like, "No, it's not a happy turkey day for the turkeys or me. I don't have anything to eat."

Seth: So I had remembered that in 1981 when I was delivering to some of the stores in Portland, the Tempeh, I looked in the cooler and I saw this Tofurky sandwich that was made out of tofu and it was basted with soy sauce or something. It wasn't really turkey-like, but it was a clever name, I thought. And I always liked the name, so that stuck in my head.

Seth: And then 1995, I was like, "Let's call this Tofurky," which everybody thought was a bad name. They were advising me against it, and say, "Man, it's too funny. It's not serious enough." And I had been trying to play it straight and be serious for all these years. And what had it got me? Nothing. So I was willing to take a chance on Tofurky, and I called up the sandwich maker, and they hadn't made that sandwich in 12 years. They were saying, "We don't care about the name, just go for it."

Seth: So I went and trademarked the name and went out with the first Tofurky roasts, which sold for about $34 in the stores. And they included a three-pound stuffed tofu roast, that I was buying from Hans, and gravy, a tub of gravy. And then we had eight tempeh drumsticks that we made because we had a burger that we were working on that tasted like Thanksgiving more than it tasted like a burger. So we stamped them into the shape of drumsticks.

Seth: So we didn't know what Tofurkys looked like in the wild, but we knew they had eight legs. So we sold 818 of those wild Tofurkys at that point. And inside the box, we put self-addressed stamped postcards, because back then, in 1995, about 30% of America had computers at home. So there really wasn't a lot of emails that you were getting, or people were just starting to learn about email as a way of contacting customers.

Seth: But the majority of people still either called you up on the 800 number, if you had one, or they wrote you a letter. So we put these postcards in there and we started getting all these amazing feedback letters and cards coming in that were just like, "Oh, my God, I've been waiting 20 years for this product. I'm not a second class citizen anymore. I've got something to eat I can put in the center of my table and cut up. It brings me into the Thanksgiving holiday."

Seth: So we knew then that it was a really big deal and that we had found what every marketer dreams of, which we had found a niche that was deep and had a lot of emotion and feeling behind it, but nobody had served it. And so we slipped in and began to serve it.

Dan: I think that's great.

Seth: It just changed the whole course of my life and the company. We went from being a regional small business to a national small business because there were people all over the country now that suddenly wanted a unique product. We had something unique that they couldn't buy from anywhere else, so that was a big deal and a big change for us.

Dan: Thank you for sharing that on was on the podcast a while back, and she was sharing a little bit about how she was able to connect with you, and how inspirational you are with her. I hadn't heard all that. So thank you for walking through that. There are a lot of things that you talked about that I'd love to get into. So, flexitarian, a lot of people think that... I was talking to Gary Hirshberg, and we were teasing about how before the package usually tastes better than the food. You made reference to that. And yet now, all of a sudden, there are so many great products out there. And a lot of people think that you're a vegan or you're not. The flexitarian thing is really cool because, as you said, people are looking to other protein sources or other sources of food.

Dan: This is the fastest-growing category, the fastest growing trend in retail. So I talk about the ripple in the pond. And the ripple in the pond is exactly what you're talking about, how you are following those trends and identifying those trends long before they become a tidal wave and end up at a Kroger, or a tsunami and end up at a Walmart.

Dan: But when you're talking about your relationship to the natural retailers, that's where those ripples in the ponds take hold. And that's where you begin to see that. So as you're working with these co-ops, how did you convince them to go down this path using your terminology? You didn't have a category, you didn't have a sustained... You're not following anyone else. You're disrupting the category, you're creating something new and different. How did you get them on board with you? Was it because of the vegan thing, because of their relationship with vegans, or something else?

Seth: Well, yeah, I mean, we were talking to mostly vegans and vegetarians at first, true, because the flexitarian was already flexing and eating turkey. But it was interesting. In the first years, the people that really latched on to Tofurky quickly and bought into it were these co-ops. It was Food Front Co-op in Portland, it was Puget Consumers' Co-op in Seattle. And they embraced it because they were pre-selling the holiday turkeys. They didn't have room in their store, so they just took these special orders. So it was easy for them to put out on their table-like, "Okay, here's the turkey, and here's the Tofurky. Take your choice which one you could do." And that first season in 1995, it became so popular at both those co-ops, but especially Puget Consumers' Co-op in Seattle, that they had to put in a Tofurky hotline, an ordering line for people to call in for Christmas and to place their orders.

Seth: So that was pretty cool. But going to the fancier natural food accounts of the day, for instance, Nature's was the precursor of Whole Foods in Portland, and they had two or three stores in 1995. And I remember going in there with the Tofurky. And back then, if you looked in the freezer case, you couldn't find anything for more than $3.99. That was the top. That was considered what today we would look at and go, oh, like a $7.99 or an $8.99 product. So $3.99 was it. And so I was like, "Oh, yeah, and here's this five-pound box of food, and you can sell it for $34.95. And they were like, "I don't know about this, but I'll take one. But you got to buy it back if it doesn't sell."

Seth: And so I'd give them one, and then the next day they'd call and go, "Well, we sold that one. Can you bring me two more?”. It just was exponential, because nobody knew how much to bring in at that point in time, either from a store level or from a distributor level. So it was really fighting door to door. And when there wasn't really a buzz about it, just trying to convince stores to take it. And you're absolutely right. The early adopters were the natural food stores and the co-op. And you always, still to this day, you appreciate the vision and they're more willing to take a chance on products, and you can cut your teeth on this great market. And then you can tell that story to bigger grocery chains. And that's exactly what we did.

Seth: But the first few years were just either selling direct to the consumer before the stores had it, or it was going to these retailers and just convincing them one by one to take it. And pretty soon, I mean, we were getting... One of the things, too, is nobody thought that anybody would be crazy enough to market a tofu turkey, one, or call it a Tofurky. And the name just like boom, it just caught on with the media. So that first year, we were getting everything from the Today Show...

Seth: We're getting everything from the Today Show to the Tonight Show and everything in between. There was just a feeding frenzy for the media because they always need a fresh angle on a story. They got to sell the program or the newspapers. We didn't have money at that point to be buying commercials on TV or even a PR. We didn't have any PR agent, but the name was such a sexy name for people that they just were flocking and calling and I was putting the Washington Post on hold to talk to the New York Times. And it was just like for a small company to breakthrough like that from relative obscurity to this hot national disruptive product, it just changed all of our lives and was just this moment that ... The Greeks have two words for time. They have Chronos, which is chronological time, and kairos, which is this magic moment where sort of time stands still. You look and you say, "I can finally see my way through."

Seth: I could just start seeing how this would play out through the future, so that was my kairos moment from the first Tofurky sold, and those feedback cards coming in and calls and letters and TV. I was like, "You know, this isn't too bad. This is going to happen." So it was an amazing day.

Dan: That's really cool. I remember all the fun that the late-night pundits would have with it. You'd get a kick out of this. Several years I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house and they had the Tofurky. I remember the first time I heard the word, it's like, "Excuse me?" I'm thinking about the gelatinous stuff that falls apart and old tofu. Anyhow, so they have that on the table and they had that traditional turkey and everyone was turning their nose up at the Tofurky and yet, that was the first thing gone. People were begging for more and the turkey was hardly touched at all. And so point being is that yeah, people if they'd try it, if they'd get past the funny name and stuff like that, it is a hit.

Seth: Oh, yeah.

Dan: When you're talking about flexitarians, there are so many people that are looking for healthier alternatives other than what's out there today. And whether you're an animal activist, et cetera, the long story short, you made a comment somewhere, I forget where I heard it, where you feed ... the amount of food that we have to give an animal and what we get back in return, those aren't equal. And so one of the big movements within this is let's just go straight to the plant and get those nutrients that we need for our body that are in some ways even better. Your thoughts, or how would you describe that?

Seth: Yeah, that's absolutely true. That was the whole reason that I became a vegetarian in 1971. I had read Francis Moore Lappe's, Diet For a Small Planet, which I believe this year or next year is going to come out with its 50th Anniversary edition. It was just this groundbreaking book because she was the first one to point that out, that you take 16 pounds of grain and you feed it to an animal and you get as a return one pound or less of protein as opposed to feeding it ... For instance, if you give me a pound of soybeans, I'll make you two pounds of tempeh.

Seth: But if you feed one pound to an animal, you're going to get 1/16th or something, everywhere from a fifth to a 16th, greatly reduced amount of protein. So, that really rang true to me because I was a teacher naturalist at that time and I was wanting to save wildlife habitats. And I was like, "Whoa, if we make a more efficient protein and we can cut like the farmland impacts by such a great degree, then wow, wouldn't the planet be better?"

Seth: Now you look at the situation that we're in where the Amazon is being shredded for cattle farms and we're taking away all of this habitat around the world and making ourself more prone to pandemics like that we're in now because there is no buffer between the wild animal and the humans. My hat's off to Frances Moore Lappe for having the vision way back in 1971 to present that fact, which is still a fact today.

Seth: And now, of course, there is, like you said, all these nutritional aspects too of eating plant-based and getting all the vitamins and minerals and nutrition directly from plants as opposed to the middleman. Cutting out the middleman is one of the key things about business and that's what we're trying to do here is go right from the plant without the middleman of the animal, right to our bodies.

Dan: Perfect.

Seth: So, it's amazing to see that happening today at the level it is.

Dan: What's interesting, and thank you for sharing all this, most people don't know, Seth, where their food comes from. And they don't understand how many gallons of water it takes to make one gallon of milk. All the different things that they have to deal with. Cows were not made to eat grain and hay and some of the stuff that we feed them and that impacts the food system. There is so many things that throw it off.

Dan: Now we're getting into what you're about, more of a pure, like you said, cutting out the middleman, giving you that best nutrition. And the cool thing is with what you're doing and the movement that you're such a big part of starting is now we're getting even better nutrients, better quality products, more flavors, and we're able to substitute and take the place of some of the things that we grew up with.

Dan: My grandfather used to make biscuits and gravy and lived for it. It was great, but that's not the healthiest meal for someone to be eating. Even though I miss it, there are a lot of great products, like, for example, some of the things that you guys have come out recently and I see that now you're making cheeses and things like that. So I definitely want to talk about that. So just quickly about the plant-based food association, which you were talking to them yesterday. I had shared with you I had an opportunity to create a strategy for them. But the reason this matters, strategy in terms of how do you identify what the trends are within that in that segment. And the reason this matter is that ripple in the pond. Most brands, most solution providers, most companies, most retailers don't see the true impact.

Dan: And so by helping those organizations understand what that means and how you're responsible for driving sustainable sales across every category. That's something we need to work on. But that's where the real opportunity is. And so where I'm going with this, Seth, is you had an idea. You're starving yourself pretty much to bring it to market and you're not ... I'm sure a lot of people are going, "Hey, wait a minute. Did you ever have second thoughts?" And yet you were riding the wave long before there was a wave.

Dan: What in the back of your mind caused you to wake up every day and say you know what, I'm going to go live on just a couple dollars a day or whatever and I'm going to continue doing this even though I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel? Was it just the mission alone?

Seth: It was two things really. It was the mission alone for the most part because I really believed in tempeh and in this whole way of living and the low on the food chain bit. But it was also, for me, and this is actually very important, as I didn't have a plan B. I mean I was living in a tree up in this rural part of Washington State where the occupational options were like a farmer. It was like an orchardist. It was like a logger. There were some maybe a few scattered teaching jobs, but I really didn't want to go back to teaching. So this had to work. Being on that what says is death ground, where you put your army where there's no retreat. You have to like to fight or perish. That was kind of the way it was for me.

Seth: It really had to work. I've seen over the years, people ... One example is people that had a fallback plan fail because of that. There was somebody that I know that was into the cashew cheese thing before anybody was. The first cashew cheese was this wonderful cashew cheese, but they had another revenue stream in their life and they were just like, "Yeah, I'll make some of this, this month, but then I'm going to go travel and then I'll come back and make some more cheese." And that's a whole different situation than the situation I was in, because not having a fallback. So you really have to almost ... There's a point where you just got to go for it and make it work. Somehow this had to work because I didn't know what else I would do, to be honest.

Seth: And so I think the two of those things kept me going. But the mission was really a big part too. And I see that in all these vegan and natural food companies too, that just about ... I mean, every vegan company that I've seen has a mission of some kind at some part of their DNA. That's a superpower for vegan companies, but also for natural food companies too. There are people making great products. The nice thing about the mission is that it's always there for you, even when the money isn't. It keeps you in the game longer.

Seth: I don't know if you're a sports fan, but they talk about in football games they say, "Well the home team's winning, but this other upstart team is hanging around. It's just hanging around," and that's what it is. The mission keeps you hanging around and hanging around and then boom it keeps you and to your Tofurky moment, or to this moment where you can pivot and things explode and other things happen, you've become less stupid. And wallah, suddenly the playing field is changed and the home team is going, "What happened?" This upstart team. So I think the mission-based businesses are more likely to succeed than non-mission-based businesses.

Dan: Absolutely. And that's how you became an overnight success after 34 years, whatever. Exactly. So when you were talking about that, I'm remembering the story about burning the ship so there's no turning back. Different analogy but the same idea. And on that note, I had my foot kind of in both worlds. I was starting this thing and I wasn't and I had that comfortable possibly go the other direction. And it wasn't until I drew the line in the sand, stepped over it, and said, "Okay, here's what I'm going to do." And that's when I formulated my mission and my mission is to make a healthy way of life more accessible by helping brands like Tofurkey get into more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers, including online.

Dan: And when I went into this 100%, that's when I launched the podcast and started building out all the content, et cetera. To your point, it's all about mission-based, and the brands that I see that are really surviving and then thriving are the ones that have that behind them. Now, what I do for my day job, Seth, is I teach brands how to take their mission and leverage that at retail because it's the mission of the consumer that buys your product that's far more valuable than slotting in the other things that they sell, especially when you're working with mainstream retailers. Getting back to that ripple in the pond.

Dan: So what I mean by that is that the customer that goes into the store that buys Tofurky, they buy a lot of other super-premium products. So they're more valuable to the retailer. Customers want to feel good about the products that they buy. So as your customers buy your products, what are the other things that they're buying with your products, and then how do you help leverage that with the retailer to give them a significant competitive advantage?

Dan: I did a free webinar a couple of weeks ago with Whole Foods magazine where I focused on exactly this, how retailers should demand more from their brands that they sell in terms of the strategies and the insights that no one else is bringing them. So thank you for sharing that. So back to your mission-based brand. Your company culture. Let's talk about that for a minute because you having a mission, that's cool. But one of the things I love about natural and one of the things that make natural natural, as I put it, is that mission is contagious throughout the entire brand, the entire organization. So how did you light that fire or inspire or whatever terminology you want to use everyone that makes Tofurkey?

Seth: Well that's a great question. The simple answer is that you just want to be as good to your employees as you can. And we've now become a B Corp, which forces you to be accountable to the interest of your employees in concert with your mission of sustainability and making money and all the other things you need to do as a business. But even before we were a B Corp, we just really tried to value the employees because people often think, "Oh, you must have all vegans working at your company." Well, we have over 200 people and we're in a town of 5,000 people. So it's really not possible. So really what you're trying to do is just trying to convince people that this is a very sustainable and good benefit and a place that really is going to take that into account.

Seth: And right now with the COVID situation, it's become even more critical because a lot of our employees have partners that have been unemployed due to this job, or then they have kids at home now that isn't going to school. So we've had to really adapt some of our policies. We've brought up our review schedule for four months so that people could get more money in their pockets. Right now we've raised a whole bunch of more money for people. We paid more benefits just because we know people are suffering now. And then we're having to work around some of these schedules that people have. So it's really a place where you want to keep people happy. And to be honest, another part of our culture really has been kind of this lighthearted fun.

Seth: It's a fun brand, it's a fun name, but within the company to we spend so much time working you want to have, and it can be intense so you want to have lighthearted moments. You want to have the time where people can share a laugh or can congregate and not be talking about work. So we really try and keep it light and fun just because we're the otters of the universe. You want to have fun when you have X percent of your life spent at a business. So wherever we can do that, we like to do that. And we do try and instill, of course ... get the concept of veganism and diet and eating better and natural foods to people that come to work there.

Seth: A lot of people come and they end up making pretty drastic changes in the way they eat just by hanging out in the culture and eating meatless Mondays where we cook meals for everybody and everybody sees, "Oh, this is great tasty food. Maybe I don't need to be eating meat morning, noon, and night and I can feel better and have a better life." It's a lot of the subtle things that you do to make a happy and sustainable company. But it all starts with being good to your employees. And especially I think the production level employees and not just say managers get something great and better that others don't.

Seth: We pay everybody's insurance 100% and everybody's got 401ks. It's pretty cool because a lot of these, the people that come to us, this is the first time they've ever heard of a 401k or then they go, "What? I've got some money in the bank now for retirement? This is crazy." Or, "If I get sick, I've got healthcare and correct healthcare." It's just trying to be respectful. And I think one of the messages of the COVID time is you're seeing who the real heroes really are now. It's not just we think of heroes, you think of, I don't know, like Phil Knight, Bill Gates, whatever. But heroic people are clerks are the grocery stores.

Seth: They're the production workers at the food plants that are giving the food, the farmers, the first responders. So it's really a great day that they're getting their due. I mean it's sad that it took a pandemic to make us realize that. I just have a lot of respect and love for all of the employees and the food service workers and the people who have not gotten as much due in society as they should have.

Dan: Thank you for sharing that. And you forgot to include yourself, people that live in a treehouse, et cetera. Just kidding. But going back to what you said, one of the things that makes natural natural is our community. And I want to celebrate what you're doing because you're helping people in those situations feel more comfortable or survive and have that soft landing, whatever terminology you want to use. And people don't realize that the difference, kind of as a segue, when I worked for Unilever, we used to joke about the way to move up in the company was to figure out how to knock off the person in front of you.

Dan: Kimberly Clark was more of that what you see in nature. So I love that. But what I love about what you're talking about is going beyond and thinking about how do you make an impact, a lasting impact, in everybody's life? It's not about Wall Street. It's about Main Street. It's how do you keep that community together. So thank you for sharing that. So inspirational. I want to talk about your book-

Dan: So inspirational. I want to talk about your book. Before we end, I also gave you an opportunity to ask me what bottleneck I can help you solve, but one of the reasons that we're talking today, and thank you so much for coming on again. I've been looking forward to talking to you for so long now, is tell us about your book. What is the impetus behind it, why did you decide to write it, and what are you hoping to accomplish? And by the way, I'm enjoying reading it and I haven't finished it yet, but I'm thoroughly enjoying. So thanks for making it available to me.

Seth: Oh yeah. Well, first of all, Dan, it's a good story, looking back, and it's entertained me. There's a lot of entertainment value in it, so it's a good read when you need a good distraction so that hopefully anybody can find humor and insight in. But beyond that, when I look back at Tofurky and what differentiates Tofurky from a lot of other companies is the fact that this is a family-owned and independent business. And you know the fact that I'm still the major shareholder, after 41 years, the founder is a still majority shareholder and we haven't sold any equity outside the family. That's unheard of the story because right now ... we grew more like by the debt financing model as opposed to the equity financing model.

Seth: So I just wanted to tell the story of illustrating that here's this other model that was really the only model back in the 1980s, because as we referenced, there really wasn't a lot of equity financiers. There wasn't a lot of money looking to find a home in natural foods. So I wanted to tell this story to other bootstrapper and vegan entrepreneurs to give them a vision of like, "Hey, if a know-nothing stupid guy like that can end up with the Tofurky company," which is in 27,000 stores worldwide and has been kind of this pioneering brand, then maybe I can too just by, staying the course and turning the key, and learning from mistakes and failure and just becoming less stupid every day.

Seth: And so that's I guess the two reasons. It's like entertaining read and a model of growth that is different than the current paradigm. And I'm not against equity financing either. And I understand that they're both valid points, but just giving sort of a tale from olden times and how that can still be out there because there are a lot of ... You hear about for every beyond meat and impossible burger, there's like 10 or 15 smaller startup companies that are just selling their products at a farmer's market or trying to get going in the natural food channel and they have some great idea and they're just trying to figure it out.

Seth: And that's really, I think, one of the heart and souls and key demographics within our business in the natural foods is ... Because that's where a lot of innovation happens. When I go to the trade show at Anaheim and the Expo West show now, which has 1000, 4000 booths or whatever, I love going to the small little sideshow. The exhibits that are in the ... they're not on the main floor, but they're in the hotels or the places where there are the new companies are because that's where you see innovation, and a lot of times is coming from these new startups that just have an idea and passion and they're giving it a go. So I personally just love that and have a big heart for anybody that's just starting out and getting going.

Dan: Thank you for sharing that. I think one of the biggest failings in natural is that we spend so much time telling brands that they need to go raise money and raise more money and raise more money and raise more money without teaching them how to use that money, how to use their intelligence, use these strategies that you're talking about to grow sales. And what I mean by that is the mindset today is you raise a lot of money and then you hand the keys to someone else to run your business for you. Here you are bootstrapping, making it work, and again, overnight success. Just kidding. But you know what I'm getting at as far as you had a plan, you had a mission, you stuck with it, you burned the ships, however, you want to put it, and as a result, you succeeded.

Dan: And I think that story is so inspirational and so for everyone, I certainly want to recommend that they read In Search of the Wild Tofurky. I'll be certain to put a link to it in the podcast show notes and on the webpage. Thank you for sharing all that and thank you for your insights because this, to me, is why I do this. This is why I get excited. Kind of going off on a tangent a little bit, but I love talking to people like you that looked beyond the traditional ways of ... the way that a lot of people do things. You know, the old strategies that your grandfather used won't be successful today.

Dan: What I mean by that is big brands can buy velocity. There are more important things in velocity and getting back to the customer, the customer that'll spend a premium to buy your product, a customer that wants to align themselves with a mission-based brand. So thank you for sharing all that. Any other comments that you want to make? And then, of course, I'd love to hear what your bottleneck is if I can help you solve it.

Seth: No. I think this has been a wide-ranging interview and you've brought up some points that no other interviewers have. So I think I applaud you for your insights-

Dan: Thanks.

Seth: ... onto the natural food industry and into plant-based foods as well. The book link will be very helpful. You know, in terms of bottlenecks, right now we've had to reinvent our production lines in terms of social distancing because a lot of food processing is like small groups of people huddled around machines and putting stuff in packages and whatnot. And so that's been a challenge. Jamie Athos, who is my stepson, and is now the president and CEO and doing a great job of being on top of keeping employees safe and getting food out the door because the orders now have basically doubled in March and April with everybody trying to bring in more products so that they don't have to go to the store so much and they're in quarantine.

Seth: And this isn't like a bottleneck per se right now. But I do think that when I look at the company, succeeding in foodservice ... We've been really a retail brand focused for the most part and haven't done as good a job as we could have in foodservice. So if it's a bottleneck, I don't know ... bottleneck, but it's an area where I think there's untapped growth potential in the Tofurky company.

Dan: Tremendous. Thank you for sharing it. So while you were talking about what is the bottleneck, my first thought was what is the natural equivalent to bubble wrap and duct tape? Just kidding. In other words, bubble wrap the people because they're so close together. I have visions of ... I've seen on the nightly news all the people next to each other in the pork processing plants and thinking how in the world do you ... that's such a difficult place to be in anyhow just to do the same thing over and over again for many hours a day.

Dan: But to answer your question, I believe you need to be wary of your customer shops, wherever your customer is. So the answer to your question is, and this actually ... you know what? I wish I would have brought this up or dug more into this. The fact that you had the wherewithal to create a postcard, self-stamped postcard, and reach out to people to get true social insights ... not social insights, customer shopper insights. That is absolutely brilliant. Hats off to you.

Dan: Most brands struggle to do that and most brands rely heavily on sources for that kind of information that aren't that good. What I mean by that is focus groups tend to tell you what you want to hear versus what you want to know. So leverage that mindset. Develop a community offline within your brand. So if I have an email address, I give it to ... You give me a recipe or something or somehow invite me into that community. So a couple of things, really good questions. One, if I have a community or build a community around you, then you can leverage that so I can help you with innovation and things like that, answering some of these specific questions that you've asked. Number two, you can leverage that community to help drive sales wherever the opportunity is.

Dan: And when you're talking about food service, getting into food service is sometimes difficult because of the transition. Who do you know, how do you make that transition? And so when I'm thinking back, the illustration that I gave you before, here's that weird looking thing on the Thanksgiving table that everyone turned their nose up and yet that was the first thing that we ate. So how do you build awareness? Every opportunity that you have to get in front of a retailer or a buyer should be an educational opportunity, one.

Dan: And then two, as you're leveraging your community, ask your community where do they want to see you and ask your community, do you know how we can get in there? What suggestions do you have? So let's say military or let's say some of the other food service opportunities. For example, my next-door neighbor puts up a booth at different ... I'm trying to think of how to put it, events and stuff like that.

Dan: One of those where they sell turkey legs and stuff like that. Well, you know what? I'm going to go tell them about Tofurky because I think that'd be a great offering. So leverage your community. Identify who are the people that can connect you in those groups. How do you start making inroads in there? And so what I'm getting at is if you own, and I didn't mean this in this way ... let me put it this way. I've always said that if all the retailers dried up tomorrow, who would you sell your product to? Had no idea that we'd have a pandemic.

Dan: Same mindset. If all the retailers disappeared, who would you sell your product to? If you had a community, you could leverage the strength of that community when you're selling online as well as in a traditional store, as well as in food service. And so the answer to the question from my standpoint is found a way to build a loyal community around your brand outside of traditional retail. Leverage that to get the insights. It's everything that you need to be able to support that, your story, your brand story, and then leverage that to get your product or introduce your product into those nontraditional areas like food service. Does that help?

Seth: Yeah. You know, I think it does and I totally agree about the customer and developing the community because people ... you want to keep your evangelical followers happy and involved and engaged because ... And honestly, one of the values of growing like we were able to grow as I've done every job here including like in the early days of tempeh, I would go out to stores and I would sit there in the back. I was doing tempeh demos. That is just to your point, it is direct feedback that's invaluable. It's not like a paid focus group. It's better than that because here's somebody tasting your product and they're just, you can see in their face, are they throwing it out? Are they going wow? Are they sharing it? Just like, can I take some for my friends? Getting that feedback from customers is just in the DNA now.

Dan: Good.

Seth: I feel sorry sometimes for people in a way if they started out like, oh, before I've even sold one unit, I have $1 million, and I've never even touched or made it. I mean I've produced tempeh on the line, so I have this empathy for workers, and I have this contact because I was in customer service. I was answering all the phones and emails at one point, and then I fired myself as I went along and got bigger.

Dan: Good for you.

Seth: That was a key point too. You've got to know when to fire yourself. Every time I fired myself, by the way, things got better because it was just you had a pro now that was living and breathing sales. It wasn't like I was doing sales, but I was also doing marketing. I was also overseeing production. I was logistics, so firing yourself is important. But you're absolutely right. Having feedback from the consumer and developing that community and maintaining that community, which now, of course, you have the social media avenue to do that and to engage them more. So thank you for that, bringing that out, that advice.

Dan: Thank you. And this kind of goes back to what I was saying a minute ago. I think that our biggest failure is the way we bring these new brands along. Go raise money. Then we teach you to raise some money. Then we teach you to raise money and then we teach you that you're strong as your biggest asset. Your greatest asset is your checkbook, and you get in front of a retailer and they say, "Sit down, shut up, get out your checkbook." That doesn't work.

Dan: But yet if we can teach you how to leverage that community, how to leverage that customer, how to leverage those insights, how to roll up your sleeves and demo the ... all the things that you've talked about, the things that are in your book, et cetera. That's how we make a difference. That's how we own that ripple in the pond. And that's how we help these natural retailers grow and thrive. That's how we help more of these natural brands continue to succeed. So thank you for sharing that. You've got a great story. Thank you.

Seth: Yeah, and you have a lot of insight certainly into natural foods, a whole career of doing branding, so it's very instructional to hear your viewpoints.

Dan: Thank you. I appreciate that. It means a lot.

Seth: And as I said, this was a good interview because I've been doing a fair number of interviews lately and some of them don't go as deep as you did and bring up different points and different things that I hadn't thought about in a while, so that's the sign of a good interview.

Dan: I appreciate that. Thank you so much for coming on and thank you for reaching out to me. This has been a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed it. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I look forward to our next conversation and hopefully get a chance to meet someday in the near future.

Seth: Absolutely, Dan. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Dan: Thank you. I appreciate it. I want to thank Seth for coming on today and for sharing his insights and his wisdom. I also want to thank Seth for sharing information about his book, for coming on the podcast today and putting it out there. More importantly for writing the book in the first place. I've started reading it. I love it. It's a great book. You're definitely going to want to read it too. In Search of the Wild Tofurky. I'll be certain to put a link to the book and how you can get it on the podcast webpage and in the show notes. Today's free downloadable guide is what is category management and why is it important?

Dan: We touched on this a little bit during the podcast episode. Category management, something that's overlooked and underutilized in the natural channel. In fact, the big brands, while they rely heavily on it, don't use it to its full potential. What I'm trying to do, is I'm trying to teach you the best strategies in terms of category management and how to gain a competitive advantage when you're working with any brand. In other words, how to level the playing field between you and your most sophisticated counterpart, your competitor.

Dan: More importantly, this is what retailers want and need from you. They want brands willing and able to step up and help them with strategies that other brands are overlooking. They want insights, actionable insights, that other brands aren't providing them. You can get that on the podcast webpage and in the show notes as well as the link to Seth's book by going to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session185. Thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Tofurky tofurky.com 

In Search of the Wild Tofurky www.tofurky.com/book

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at brandsecretsandstrategies.com for the show notes along with more great brand building articles and resources. Check out my free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies, your roadmap to success. You can find that on my website or at TurnkeySalesStoryStrategies.com/growsales. Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.

Sign up today on my website so you don’t miss out on actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.

I appreciate all the positive feedback. Keep your suggestions coming.

Until next time, this is Dan Lohman with Brand Secrets and Strategies where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

Listen where you get your podcast

What is Category Management And Why It’s So Important

The great equalizer between small and large brands.  Learn how it has evolved and the advanced strategies that retailers really want and need from you and your brand.

Empowering Brands | Raising The Bar

Ever wish you just had a roadmap?  Well now you do!

Don’t miss out on all of these FREE RESOURCES (strategic downloadable guides, podcast episodes, list of questions you need to be asking and know the answers to, weekly newsletter, articles and tips of the week.  You will also receive access to quick and easy online courses that teach you how to get your brand on the shelf, expand distribution, understand what retailers REALLY want and address your most pressing challenges and questions.

All tools that you can use, AT NO CHARGE TO YOU, to save you valuable time and money and grow your sales today!

Image is the property of CMS4CPG LLC, distribution or reproduction is expressively prohibited.