(28 Total References)
In a Pickle | Small Business Professor
In Pat Hunn's case, his Dad purchased a brand and a recipe for a specialty pickle about 50 years ago, near Dallas, TX. Like many kids with parental entrepreneurs, Pat wasn't interested in the food business; yet, family dynamics affect choices and life decisions.
For Hunn, letting his Dad down wasn't an option he could live with, so after graduation from Baylor University in 1979, Hunn joined the family business.
At first, Hunn
was miserable; his
Dad was too busy for training, so Hunn
just watched and listened, his
desk side-by-side with Dad's.
Eventually, the entrepreneurial spirit took hold and he
began to develop his
own relationships with customers, agents, and brokers.
By the third year, Hunn
was running the company, sales had tripled to 120,000 cases annually, and his
Dad started taking more time off.
During the 80's they experienced tremendous growth, selling 450,000 cases per year by 1989.
A chance conversation with a Vlasic executive set a buy-out in motion and Hunn was offered a job with Vlasic's parent company, Campbell's, where he worked for 11 years, concentrating for the final eight years specifically on Wal-Mart.
By the late 90's, the resulting chaos of Vlassic's
corporate spin-off so changed Pat's attitude toward big business, that he
decided to become an entrepreneur again.
Early in 2002, Hunn
put together a plan to re-establish the kind of company he
Dad had sold to Vlassic; utilizing unique recipes, other manufacturers' line time to produce, and his
own business savvy to build the brand.
spent six months working with food technologists to help create the best tasting pickle possible.
decided to call it Hunn's Private Stock, to build upon the idea that this was an exclusive, gourmet pickle.
Based on the relationships he
had built over the years, Wal-Mart
committed to bringing on his
new line in August, but they weren't sure how many cases or exactly when the product would hit the stores.
Because the pickle packing season ends in October, Hunn
personally financed several hundred thousand cases in anticipation of Wal-Mart's needs.
tried to keep his
cool as he
waited, month after month, for the Wal-Mart paperwork - many jar-packed pickles have a one year expiration date and time was ticking away.
first order, but the product wasn't distributed until July, almost nine months after the pickles were packed.
Since the brand was new to Wal-Mart customers, sales were slow, and the expiration date problem began to loom ever larger.
In an effort to survive, Hunn
began to sell the rest of his
inventory to close-out retailers, losing money on every case and angering Wal-Mart
had financed the production run himself, taking back Wal-Mart's inventory wasn't an option, so he
requested a meeting to work things out.
As he left the meeting reeling, Hunn took the advice of a Wal-Mart executive, "Stop trying to out Vlasic, Vlasic.
Take your upscale product and find your own niche - be something special and you'll be successful."
Hunn thought about it and realized that traditional channels of distribution were not right for this line.
needed to appeal to gourmet and specialty retailers, repositioning and restructuring the business to exclusive clientele.
It has been two hard fought years since the transformation and Hunn's biggest challenge is still to get people to try the product, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Chili Pepper Magazine
, which focuses on hot and spicy foods invited Hunn
to participate in their annual food show, Zest Fest, where several of Hunn's Private Stock "Hot and Spicy" varieties won 1st place in category awards as Best Condiment and their "Bread and Butter" Pickles won 2nd place in the People's Choice awards in the broader category of "Snacks".
The Small Business Professors' Words of Wisdom
Even with 20 years of experience and a good business model, Pat Hunn
learned a hard lesson.
story has much to offer many entrepreneurs.
Risk taking is a fact of life for entrepreneurs, but perseverance through hard times and learning from your mistakes is the key.
Working for someone else can broaden your horizons, but running family business leverages knowledge you don't even realize you have.
son recently graduated from Baylor just like Dad, and he's
looking forward to the day when his
son is in a pickle too.
PPI President, Pat Hunn, ...
PPI President, Pat Hunn, welcomes attendees during his opening remarks on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.
PPI President, Pat Hunn, and ...
PPI President, Pat Hunn, and Miss Pickle, Patti Piper, welcome attendees at the President's Luncheon.
• Patrick Hunn, First ...
• Patrick Hunn, First Place Foods LLC, Garland
First Place Foods | News
Hunn's is busy creating new products and expanding our distribution.
Check this section to find out what great things are going on with Hunn's right now, or maybe you can find out when Hunn's is set to enter your marketing area.
Texas "Pickle King" Pat Hunn Introduces New Line Of Hunn's Private Stock Premium Pickles
is back in the pickle business.
Considered the "pickle expert" by many food industry insiders, Hunn
has introduced a new line of premium pickles called Hunn's Private Stock.
Produced by parent company Focus Foods Inc., Hunn's Private Stock offers 20 varieties of
fresh-pack pickles and sweet relish, with an unmatched kosher flavor profile.
The products range
from the standard kosher dill to "hot" bread and butter.
In fact, Hunn
offers a regular and a "hot" version of most varieties.
The products utilize fresh cucumbers in a unique combination of liquid and dry spices and flavorings.
The brine is a proprietary recipe that gives each and every jar of Hunn's Private Stock a unique taste, while dry onion slivers and minced garlic pieces enhance eye appeal of the packaged product.
After 23 years as a "pickle insider," Hunn
knows the industry like the back of his
And what he
knows is that the pickle category has grown a little stale.
"The sad thing is that the leaders in the category seem to have no desire to act like leaders and be innovative," he
"They are doing the same things they have been doing for years.
I felt it was time for some innovation."
knows all about innovation.
family produced the successful Wiejske Wyroby brand of pickles for 22 years.
In 1990 they sold the line to the Campbell Soup Company and Hunn worked for the food giant's Vlasic division for 11 years, continuing to build a reputation as one of the industry's premier authorities on pickles.
In January 2002, Hunn
began working on his
own premium brand of pickles.
"The products we have developed are so good that we've put our name on them," he
According to Hunn
, there are specific features that create a premium pickle.
says, a pickle must have a pronounced and pleasing flavor.
"Consumers have to be able to tell what they are eating," says Hunn
In addition to producing "hot" or spicy versions of most pickles, Hunn
has also created a unique
relish to compliment the line.
It was designed to be more pleasing both to the palate and the eye.
"Most relishes look and taste like a paste," said Hunn
Hunn's Private Stock relishes will be about
twice the size of the typical relish.
"The pieces are much bigger than the norm—they're more like pico de gallo or a chunky salsa.
They also have less starch, which means that they aren't as gummy or paste-like."
expects to be selective in identifying the retailers he
will pursue to carry his
Pricing will be comparable or slightly higher than the most popular national brands.
"I want only the finest retailers to carry Hunn's