COMPANY: Owens Family Foods, LLC (a.k.a. Scotty O’Hotty)
BACKGROUND: Launched in Dearborn Heights in 2013 by Dearborn natives Scott and Suzi Owens, Scotty O’Hotty hot sauces come in five varieties: Roasted Pepper (Mild), Beer Bacon Chipotle (Mild), Premium Habanero (Hot), The Ghost Sauce (XXX Hot), and as the name indicates, Reaper de Muerte (XXXX Hot). They are produced in Southfield and Ferndale. The line has received numerous awards and the products are carried on shelves at a wide variety of stores including: Westborn Markets, Hollywood Markets, Spartan Stores, and most recently Kroger locations in Michigan and ten other states.
BMN: What made you first decide to go into the hot sauce business?
SCOTTY: Like many families we found ourselves unsure of our financial future during the downward spiral of the economy in 2008. Our love for fresh farm to table recipes using organic ingredients from our garden began our idea of producing food products. Food is a passion that we share. We wanted to develop a healthy alternative condiment that we were proud to give our kids and family. We started passing our goodies to family, friends and coworkers; all of which had encouraged us to get our products on store shelves. Fast forward three years and we are one of the fastest growing food companies in the Midwest and have won every industry award, including the world championship at the Louisiana Hot Sauce Expo 2015! You can now find Scotty O'Hotty products in over 10 states and soon to have 400 locations in California. We feel so blessed and fortunate, Scotty O'Hotty has grown beyond our wildest dreams!
BMN: What was the hardest part about getting started?
SCOTTY: There is no ‘manual’ on how to start this type of business or what steps need to be performed to get from our home experiments to licensed products that can be sold to the public. It was a long process. From trademark licensing to HAACP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point) plans, there are a lot of hoops to jump through.
BMN: What moments stand out as milestones in building your brand?
SCOTTY: That's an easy one, our awards. We received 1st place People's Choice award for The Ghost Sauce within the first six months of our launch. From there, we have received awards in almost every major competition in the U.S. including or brand new 1st place World Hot Sauce Award for our Reaper de Muerte.
BMN: What advice do you have for other food entrepreneurs who might just be getting started?
SCOTTY: Network. Go to local events, talk to the people selling products. Most likely, it is the owner, manufacturer, designer, distributor, accountant, and sales person behind the table. People in this business do help each other out. This industry reminds me of the classic line ‘sometimes it's who you know, not what you know.’ Take advice from people and apply it to what you are trying to accomplish, but be prepared for hard work! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
BMN: Where do you want to be in ten years?
SCOTTY: In ten years we will have expanded our product line by several different directions, not just hot sauce. We have a lot of ideas in our back pocket. We hope to see our products available nationwide, and for our brand, Scotty O'Hotty, to be a common product name that most everyone is familiar with. It would be ideal for us to have a strong employee base by that time, so that we can step back slightly to enjoy the fruits of our labors as well. We'll see.
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