Two years ago we introduced our readers to Business Plan Pro user Sarah Lanphier of Nuts About Granola. She was a young entrepreneur who turned a one-time fundraiser into a successful business.
Today, the small business Sarah started with her mother, Gayle, is growing beyond what anyone, except maybe Sarah, might have imagined. In the fall, they closed not one, but two big deals that are taking Nuts About Granola to a whole new level.
First came a co-packing agreement with Alpina Foods. Apina was looking for a company to produce granola to accompany their new line of Revive Greek yogurt, when they “stumbled upon” Nuts About Granola. As Sarah says it wasn’t just a lucky coincidence. “The reason they found me is because I worked very hard so I could be found. You have to prepare yourself for the moment when an opportunity arises.”
Preparing for success
Part of the preparation that led to the partnership with Alpina was carefully managing her online presence, which includes a website, Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “I manage all of them, update them regularly, make sure they all work together and have the same message.” Sarah says that played a big part in how Alpina found her and why they wanted to work with her company.
Before the Alpina deal came along, Nuts about Granola was working out of a commercial kitchen with an attached 2,000 square foot storage facility. With Alpina needing 10,000 pounds of granola a month, Sarah knew they’d need to expand, which lead to the next big development – a partnership with the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired (SABVI) and Shiloh Farms to utilize the SABVI’s 19,000 square foot manufacturing facility. “Partnering with SABVI means we’re truly going to be a food manufacturing facility. So we can do the Aplina account, and take on other accounts as well.”
Sarah started her business with a mission of supporting local businesses and farmers. Now her desire to give back to her community has broadened. “That was the point of partnering with the blind center: to create jobs for the vision impaired. It’s awesome,” she says.
“I always knew that I wanted to get to this point. So I did things along the way that prepared me to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that came along,” says Sarah. She calls herself a planner by nature, so she planned for success from the very beginning. She says this includes doing endless amounts of research, and “always having a contact who knows a lot more about what you’re doing than you do.”
Growth isn’t without its challenges, Sarah notes. “The hardest part of expanding is logistics. With every increment of growth, you have a new set of problems. And they don’t scale; sometimes they just pile on top of each other.”
But Sarah doesn’t let the challenges get in her way. She’s still running marathons and racing triathlons and still loving what she does. “This industry is very in line with my lifestyle. A lot of the races I do, our business sponsors. It overlaps, and because it’s integrated it’s a lot of fun. It may be a business function, but I’d be doing it anyway. I think that’s really the key to making it not seem like I’m working all the time.”
Nuts About Granola has been featured on the Rachael Ray show and has found its way into the gift bags at two Emmy® Awards. Soon you’ll be able to find it on your local grocery store shelves, sitting atop cups of Greek yogurt. With Sarah Lanphier’s drive, determination, and planning skills, who knows where Nuts About Granola will turn up next.
Bonus Recipe: PB&J Pumpkin Pancakes
Sarah was kind enough to share this recipe with us. Created by her blog manager Lauren Podolsky, it includes peanut butter and jelly flavored granola to make delicious-looking pancakes.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup skim milk (or almond, soy or rice milk)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 C College Staple Granola (divided)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract, mixing well until smooth.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula until just combined.
4. Stir in half of the granola and mix to combine.
5. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat.
6. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray, and, in 1/4-cup increments, cook each pancake until lightly browned on each side, about 1 minute per side.
7. Repeat with the remaining batter.
8. Top with remaining granola, sliced banana, and maple syrup.
You can follow Sarah and her growing success on Twitter: @granola_grl and @nutsaboutgranola