Photo by Kimberly McKinzie
Photo by Kimberly McKinzie
ROCHESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL, KERRY FELTNER / News / Published: August 5, 2016
In the nine months since its launch, The Perfect Granola LLC has secured major retailers, gold-medal winning pole vaulter Jenn Suhr’s support, and steady growth.
The company sells loose granola and granola bars. It started from the kitchen of spouses Michele and Jason Liddle, who launched the firm last December.
Michele Liddle has culinary and business experience, but she and her husband continue to work their full-time jobs. She works for a company that sells industrial motors; he works for the state Department of Transportation.
The company is based at their home in Victor, Ontario County. The company does not have employees and uses a co-packer in East Hartford, Conn., that they declined to identify.
The for-profit company’s mission is to help others within the community—starting with the homeless. The company was created as a vehicle by which the owners hope to help the underserved by providing those in need with healthy food.
“We just wanted to do something,” co-owner Michele Liddle said. “We’ve been blessed with a really fortunate life. We both have really good careers that we’re pretty stable in, we have two healthy kids (and) we just wanted to give back. I don’t think it’s fair for healthy, vibrant people to not do anything.
“We’ve got good heads on our shoulders; we’re figuring things out along the way.”
The company has three flavors of granola: Original Mix, Cherry Vanilla Walnut and Maple Pecan Date. Its certifications include gluten-free, kosher, non-genetically modified organism, and made in the USA.
The Perfect Granola’s focus on health helped convince Lori’s Natural Foods Center in Henrietta to carry its products.
“We really love to carry quality local products, and when we learned of The Perfect Granola, we thought they’d be a great fit with both our philosophy and the products we select for the store,” said Christine Brogan Huber, communications director for Lori’s Natural Foods Center. “Their products contain clean ingredients (and) they also keep the sugar level low and use natural sweeteners, which aligns with our own guidelines of providing healthier versions of everyday foods for customers.”
Many granola products are not healthy, Michele Liddle said.
“When I looked at the granola and the ingredients, the sugar and the fat, cheaper brand granolas and even some of the higher brands, they’re just not healthy,” she said.
The company has partnered with community organizations such as the Ontario ARC, which focuses on helping those with intellectual or other developmental disabilities.
“Another draw for us was the company’s mission. We were pleased to see that they have partnered with the Ontario ARC for manufacturing and donate to homeless shelters and food pantries in the area,” Brogan Huber said. “This philosophy of giving back is certainly a match with ours and makes them even more appealing to work with. That’s always a win-win for businesses.”
In June, Suhr announced her endorsement of The Perfect Granola.
Last month, the U.S. Olympic Team said Suhr made the team and is to compete in her third straight Summer Olympic Games starting today in Rio de Janeiro. Suhr is the reigning 2012 Olympic champion and indoor world record holder in the women’s pole vault.
The Perfect Granola can be found in more than 100 locations, including all 89 stores of Wegmans Food Markets Inc., in Lori’s Natural Foods Center, Hart’s Local Grocers, Hegedorns Market, Rail Side Market & Café and Red Jacket Orchards Inc.
“Everything that we’ve been able to accomplish, none of it would be possible if people didn’t help us out,” Liddle said. “I am just so excited about what opportunities are coming our way.”
Wegmans is “the best grocery store in the entire United States—we’re just lucky they’re here in our backyard,” Liddle said. “To have them be my first large retailer is absolutely phenomenal.”
Wegmans started working with the brand in February.
“I chose to do business with The Perfect Granola for a few reasons,” said Jeremy Hantke, grocery category merchant for Wegmans. “Michele had a great presentation and business approach when she came in to present her brand. The Perfect Granola and Jenn Suhr are local to the Rochester/Buffalo area and we love to support our local businesses, and The Perfect Granola has a great story about giving back to the community by donating to homeless shelters and food programs.”
The Liddles’ goal over the next few months is to expand the brand’s presence in the marketplace with controlled growth. They are hopeful of reaching agreements with retailers that would bring in hundreds, if not thousands of stores.
Brogan Huber believes the company will find long-term success.
“We do think it will be successful because it’s been our experience so far that this local area really has a large population of folks who want to buy local, who read the labels on what they purchase, who are looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and who have an interest in the ethics of those from whom they purchase,” she said. “And their products are all delicious.”
The more the company grows, the more the community can be supported, Liddle said.
“Life is not about getting yourself into where you need to be, it’s about getting other people to get where they need to be and to help people,” she said.
The original story can be found: here