Darista Dips logo

Ohio Food Industry Summit Sparks Small Business’s Growth

Darista Dips is on a mission to delight eaters with unbelievably tasty food inspired by cuisines from around the world, made with the finest and freshest ingredients possible. The products have a story to tell, one of local pride and world appreciation. But most importantly, the company wants to provide great, nutrient-dense food for its customers to share their own stories with friends and family.

Darista Dips had a strong product with great traction following and huge growth opportunity. They knew it needed the High Pressure Processing (HPP) Technology in order to survive and grow, but as a small business, they did not have the funds or resources to test their products using the HPP technology. Costs for testing were more than $65,000, which would need to be output to know whether the technology even worked on their products. The company realized that it might have to shut down all together, if it did not go forward with the testing.

Darista Dips attended CIFT’s annual Ohio Food Industry Summit, and learned about the work that CIFT does with food companies across the state. The timing was perfect, given the testing issue that the company was facing. CIFT was able to work with the company to provide the resources to get the testing done; the tests proved positive, which meant the company could utilize the HPP technology for processing. Darista Dips immediately landed 50 accounts with this innovation, and on-boarded 4 new distributors.

“I can’t emphasize how critical CIFT was to the life of our business. We would not be here today if we didn’t have this incredible opportunity. Everyone (at CIFT) was tremendous, and we are so grateful.” — Dara Schwartz, Owner/President

As an industry, the last year has shown how essential and strong we are. We have overcome never before seen challenges in the market and even within our organizations caused by a once in a century pandemic. And throughout it all we have kept our fellow citizens fed and our colleagues safe. 

Now, it’s time to look at what comes next and that is the focus of our 2021 Ohio Food Industry Summit. We will be joined by leaders and speakers on trends in food processing, the state of innovation, research and much more. Please join us as we virtually gather with others in our industry on April 15, 2021. Learn more and register here. Registration is free.

Read more success stories.

cookie cutter

The Pragmatic (and Effective!) Approach to Lean

You’ve had a horrible experience with lean before, even after being told it’s supposed to make your life easier. These horrible experiences are often caused by “cookie cutter” implementations that don’t address your unique business needs and employees. You need a provider that will work with you and will implement a system built for you and your employees. When choosing a lean provider, make sure your new provider understands the importance of these three points.

Foundation-Up Strategy

Your frontline employees are the ones that will be most impacted by implementing a lean production, so it’s important that they are involved in the process. Having a “foundation-up strategy” does exactly that. Employees help guide the production changes and they see first hand how their jobs are going to be easier. They will feel empowered by their changes and will directly understand the decisions that were made. In return, they will know the new processes up and down, understand the benefits and new efficiencies and overall feel more comfortable with the change. A lean program will only work if the employees using it see the benefit.

Implementation By Area

Don’t try to change everything all at once. Lean will be better responded to if you implement it in phases, but choose where to start wisely. It’s important to choose an area that’s most open to change and it helps if it’s centrally located and visible to most employees. Progress will be noticed by others. Naturally, more departments will want to reap the benefits and will on their own start organizing and looking for ways to enhance their space. This could even be used as a little friendly competition to see what department can do it best before the actual lean implementation happens to their area.

Continuing the Success

If the new lean practices aren’t sustainable, success will be temporary. Training documents and SOPs are crucial for a lasting impact. Every new employee should be onboarded to the lean practices from the start. Any production changes made or new practices put in place while implementing, should be recorded so employees can move around and still know the process. The success of your lean program relies on each and every employee.

Questions on lean? We’re here to answer them. Contact us through our website.

We have many resources available when it comes to lean. Check out our blog series, 3 Benefits of Implementing Lean into Your Manufacturing Production or get more information on our complimentary lean assessment.

2020 CIFT Excellence Award

Announcing the 2020 CIFT Excellence Award Winner

We are excited to announce the winner of the 2020 CIFT Excellence Award — Guac Shop!

The CIFT Excellence Award recognizes outstanding achievement and performance, and all companies that produce from our Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) are eligible to win. The winner is chosen based on community involvement, current growth and future expansion plans.

On March 31st, 2021 at 4pm, we will be live streaming the virtual ceremony to award Guac Shop and you are invited. If you would like to watch the ceremony, please mark your calendar and watch our live streaming through our NOCK Facebook page at 4pm on March 31st.

We talked to founder, Danielle Arbinger, and asked her questions on her journey and ideas of what the future holds.

Why did you start Guac Shop?
“Everytime I made guacamole for parties or potlucks, people went crazy. It was always in the back of my mind to sell it somehow, but with four small kids and a full-time job, life was too busy to consider starting a side business.

“I loved my job, but eventually the 3-hour round trip commute each day (drive to work plus dropping off and picking up kids at two different schools) took its toll. Having a flexible schedule, spending more time with my family and the idea of being my own boss led me to start Guac Shop.”

What was the biggest business challenge you have faced and overcome? How did you do it?
“The biggest challenge was extending the shelf life beyond 7 days. The very first day I began researching how to start a guacamole company, I found the CIFT kitchen and learned about HPP (high-pressure processing to extend shelf life naturally without preservatives) via Google and knew it would be the key to having a viable product.

“Exactly one year after that Google search, I was at an HPP facility doing a test run which would be sent to a lab at Ohio State University for shelf life testing. Several months later, the testing revealed three flavors of guacamole (Original, Spicy and Opamole) had a 60 day shelf life and two flavors had a 75 day shelf life. It was a big moment for Guac Shop!”

What motivates you everyday?
“There are so many things that motivate me…my kids, for one, have watched the idea of Guac Shop grow into a real business. They helped me think of possible names when I was applying for the LLC and now are working the register at farmer’s markets and seeing how excited people are to buy our guacamole. There are so many life lessons for them. In fact, they all have business ideas brewing and want to become entrepreneurs.

“I have the most amazing, loyal customers and businesses that buy Guac Shop. Making people happy, plus the positive feedback are huge motivators and I especially love converting people who thought they didn’t like avocado or guacamole into regular customers.”

What is the most important advice you could give to someone who is just starting out with a food product idea?
“Make sure you have a product that is not only delicious, but very unique in some way and do a lot of research before taking the leap. Go to stores, see what your competition is doing and strategize how you can stand out. Make sure you will be able to competitively price your product and still make a profit.”

What are you most excited about for the future?
“In 2021, we are starting subscriptions and will be able to reach customers outside of Ohio and Michigan.”

Congratulations to Guac Shop on winning the CIFT Excellence Award! We are so happy to be a part of your story and can’t wait to see what the future holds!