Central Region: Local Press

 

Gator Ron's

Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces and Mixes produce a unique line of products originating from the recipes of the founder’s husband, Ron Griffith. A professional salesman in telecommunications, in his spare time Ron loved to cook and was a fabulous grill master who over decades, created and perfected numerous sauces and mixes for meats, poultry, seafood, and other foods, as well as beverages. Ron created the concept for what he planned to call “Zesty Sauces & Mixes” when he began to investigate manufacturing and marketing his proprietary recipes, but his desire to bring his dream to fruition was halted when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a progressive, neurological disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, in 2007.

 

During his illness, he shared his recipes with his wife, Connie, and never stopped talking about what “could have been”. Ron passed away in November 2011 at the age of 58, and in January 2012, Connie established Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes. Connie is fulfilling Ron’s desire to provide healthy, all natural, delicious sauces and mixes while helping build awareness ofALS and raise money for treatment -- a percentage of sales proceeds are being donated to the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins. Connie hopes to become the “Paul Newman’s” for ALS.

 

Connie and her friend and former neighbor, Debbie Kaufmann, have been working diligently since early 2012 to launch and grow the company. It has meant finding co-packers and warehouse space, developing marketing plans and selling and delivering the products to stores, markets, and restaurants and at community events. In 2013, Gator Ron’s sampled and/or sold 30,000 bottles of sauces and mixes and are on target to sell 65,000-70,000 bottles in 2014 with the help of their newly hired sales representative, who will begin January 1. They are currently in more than 100 stores, restaurants and markets, and expect to double that number in 2014.

 

Andrew Kreinik, SBTDC International Counselor, who helps small businesses develop and execute export sales strategies, made introductions for Gator Ron’s for their initial contact with the Southern United States Trade Administration (SUSTA) when they attended a Buyer-Growers Show in Annapolis sponsored by the MD Department of Agriculture and a Canadian Distributors program sponsored by SUSTA. Through that show, Gator Ron’s partnered with a Canadian distributor which is placing Gator Ron’s products in gourmet and gift stores throughout Ontario.

 

The company has now been accepted into the Fancy Food Show in New York in June 2014, and the Natural Products East Show in Baltimore in October 2014, as part of the Southern United States Trade Administration (SUSTA) Pavilion in an effort to expand their export sales. Connie’s and Debbie’s hard work and dedication to Ron’s vision is paying off and they are an inspiration to all businesses trying to fulfill their dreams.