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!

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