In 2008, Lefty’s Spices generated only $24,829 in revenue. Nash grew the company by partnering with a major distributor. It was Nash’s friend, Fred Lankford, CEO of Lankford-Sysco Food Services, who facilitated his entry into servicing other restaurants. Sysco Corp. (parent company of Lankford-Sysco Food Services), with 400,000 customers, 180 distribution locations, and $37 billion in sales for fiscal year 2010, is the largest food service distributor in North America.
To snag clients, Nash also made use of industry trade shows. At a 2009 food show sponsored by DPI Specialty Foods, Lefty’s Spices attracted the attention of Giant Food Stores, which now carries Lefty’s barbecue sauces and seasonings. “That was how we got into grocery retail,” he says.
Lefty’s sets itself apart from other seasoning and condiment manufacturers by offering meats rubbed with its sauces—beef and chicken barbecue and its popular North Carolina pork. That part of the business resulted from a meeting with a buyer from Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and producer.
The key to Nash’s success, he says, has to do with solidifying personal relationships and partnerships with food service distributors, including the U.S. Armed Forces, wholesale distributors such as Supervalu, major corporations such as Sam’s Club, and retailers such as Lowes Foods. Last year, Lefty’s Spices grossed $459,602; for 2011, Nash projects gross revenues of $700,000 by the end of the year. “A lot of major corporations are looking for minority vendors to satisfy their diversity inclusion efforts,” says Nash, who did road shows for Sam’s Club.
Nash no longer has to hunt for clients. Today, he has three full-time employees plus five brokerage firms that acquire and maintain new business.
LEFTY’S SPICES L.L.C.
Owners: Walter Nash Jr. (25%), Walter Nash Sr. (25%), Margaret Nash (Mother) (25%) LaTanya Nash (Sister) (25%)
Location: Waldorf, MD
Number of full-time employees: 3
What it does: Manufactures hot and mild barbecue sauces, rubbed meats, dry spices, and fish and chicken seasonings
Revenue Model: Outsources manufacturing and utilizes large channels of distribution in North America that encompasses wholesale distributors, food service companies, and retailers
2009 Revenues: $286,596
2010 Revenues: $459,602
2011 Projections: $700,000
How they made it: The success of the restaurant, Lefty’s Barbecue, and customer demand for the eatery’s recipes, sauces, and mixed seasonings helped to propel the distribution and sales of Lefty’s Spices. Nash solidified relationships and partnered with major corporations, large wholesalers, retailers, and giant food service distributors.