2008 - Volume #32, Issue #3, Page #08
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Successful Corn Snack Result Of Ethanol Experiment

The corn Stan Friesen grows on his Minnesota farm can end up in a fancy California gift shop, a local food co-op, or in the corn-burning stove that heats his Mountain Lake, Minn., home.
  The corn he sells to gift shops is the result of a 1990 "accident" when Friesen was cooking up an ethanol experiment on the kitchen stove. An explosion resulted in GLAD CORN A-Maizing Corn, a salty snack made of field corn, non-hydrogenated soybean oil and salt. Friesen and his wife, Gladys, patented it and started selling the product in 2002, and GLAD CORN is available in gift shops and natural food stores throughout the U.S.
  Gladys recalls that they tested GLAD CORN on friends in Minnesota and then in Florida and other regions. People loved it, and after creating the demand, they sought information how to accomplish the bigger challenge of marketing.
  "We took two years to do our research," Gladys says.
  On a Florida trip for a financial conference, the couple discovered a niche marketing workshop and picked up some ideas. On the drive home they stopped at the production plant of the makers of pecan logs sold at Stuckey's stores.
  "The wife of the man who created them, gave us a tour of the factory and gave us ideas of how they started. She was very open and generous," Gladys says.
  The Friesens continued growing corn, beans and alfalfa on 500 acres while they gathered information from extension, state licensing offices and others, and remodeled a long vacant hog barn into a production facility. Stan purchased used stainless steel equipment and retrofitted it to cook up GLAD CORN.
  To find supplies they needed, such as bags and labels, they visited libraries and found supply sources in Thomas Register books of businesses (www.thomasnet.com).
  They sold their first cases to a local convenience store in June 1992. When they approached gift shops and chains, they were often told to go through the corporate office, something they were uncomfortable doing, Gladys notes. Then they discovered the Minneapolis Gift Mart where agents display items for gift shop buyers to choose from. That opened doors into gift stores throughout the country.
  At the same time, they sold GLAD CORN in bulk to a local natural food cooperative. Now they sell the original GLAD CORN plus Jalapeno, Bar-B-Q and Gourmet Cheddar flavors, and also SOY MUNCH soy nuts throughout the country.
  "The natural food market has become our niche," Gladys says. "People want to see where their food is coming from."
  The Friesens attend two big food shows to meet potential distributors and have watched their business grow through the years - without taking on debt. They borrowed $3,500 from the farm account in the beginning and paid that back. Now income from GLAD CORN surpasses farm crop income. They have two full-time staff, and Stan's 93-year-old father works with four part-time employees on processing days.
  "Start out small," Gladys suggests, and consider direct marketing. "What we found, when going direct, is that you get paid for the crop and eliminate middle man profits."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, GEF Gourmet Foods, Inc., 35584 Co. Rd. 8, Mountain Lake, Minn. 56159 (ph 800 692-6762; www.GLADCORN.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #3