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Member of the Month
May 2016: Frankie's Fresh Foods

FRANKIE’S FRESH FOODS



Husband and wife team Michael and Graciela Abbott started out as simple backyard gardeners looking for ways to grow substantially. “We started experimenting with aquaponics using goldfish (which add nitrates to the tank) and herbs,” said Graciela. “After mastering this on a small scale we decided to scale up.”

The business has expanded and now the couple owns and manages Frankie’s Fresh Foods, which sells sustainably-grown produce and cucumber pickles.

Like many new business owners, they had to strike out on their own, not armed with a lot of instructions. “Through many trials, we found a successful method to grow a variety of produce  using aquaponics,” said Graciela. “As new farmers, funding was a challenge. “We decided to grow organically using our own money, putting together our operation little by little as our budget would allow.”

They currently sell at local farmers markets (West 7th Farmers Market in Fort Worth and Keller Farmers Market in Keller) and will be expanding their growing space in the next year, thanks in part to a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture. “We hope to be able to set up a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and continue to expand our produce selection and sales area,” said Graciela.

Like an increasing number of growers and small businesses in Texas, the Abbotts were attracted to the GO TEXAN program and became members. “We thought GO TEXAN would be a good way to get exposure in our local area and beyond,” said Graciela. “We decided to join GO TEXAN to create a relationship with others that value products and services from their own state. People are glad to find out that our products are made in Texas with pride.”

For more information on Frankie’s Fresh Foods, visit their website and Instagram page.

June 2016: Hardcore Carnivore


Jess Pryles wasn’t born in Texas, but as that old saying goes, she got here as fast as she could. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Pryles first visited Texas eight years ago and fell in love with the Lone Star State and our world-famous barbecue. She kept returning year-after-year, until she finally made the move to Austin in early 2015.

It was her first bite of Texas barbecue — a bark-crusted beef rib — that started her love affair with Texas cuisine and was a driving force in her move to Austin. These days, Pryles is a respected authority on barbecue, meat and grilling, and she keeps busy publishing recipes and stories on her website.

Pryles’ debut food product is Hardcore Carnivore™: Black, an unusual, charcoal-based seasoning rub that’s custom-made in Houston. Featuring classic rub flavors of garlic, chili, onion and black pepper, the food-grade charcoal in the mix creates a vividly dark, striking exterior crust on steaks and meat.

Before the product was even fully finalized, Pryles knew she wanted to display the GO TEXAN mark on her creation.

“It’s a matter of pride, showing fellow Texans — and the rest of the world — that I’m darn proud to have created and produced Hardcore Carnivore locally, right here in Texas,” Pryles said. Find her products on her website and try out her recipe in the June issue of the Go Local. GO TEXAN. e-zine.
July 2016: Texas Tito's


TEXAS TITO’S: SUCCEEDING IN A SALTY BUSINESS


Texas Tito’s was founded in 1996 and began on South Flores Street in San Antonio. It was the first company to introduce portion packaged jalapeno peppers to the marketplace. These single serving size packages of nacho sliced jalapenos brought the nation’s favorite chile pepper to the market in a never before seen package that was convenient and delicious.

Approximately 10 years later Tito’s was moved to New Braunfels, where it continues to thrive today. Following the success of the single packed jalapeno pepper slices, Tito’s has since introduced other specialty peppers in convenient packages, jalapenos and other chiles in deli cups and most recently individually packaged jumbo dill pickles.

Like most new and innovative companies, Tito’s faced its share of challenges – most specifically with the sticky and juicy properties of its hottest product – nacho sliced jalapenos.

“They are a challenging product to package in the format that Tito’s utilizes,” company president Chris Snider said. “The product sticks to everything, which results in their having ‘poor conveyance properties,’ as those in the packaging business would say.”

Being the first to successfully package sliced jalapenos in this format has required Tito’s to be innovative and create specific solutions to this sticky problem. In order to remain competitive and continually become more efficient, Snider knows that these innovations must be ongoing and continuous.

Having recently entered the highly competitive category of individually packaged jumbo dill pickles, Tito’s now faces a new level of competition. There are large companies who have been in the pickle business for decades who Tito’s now has to compete against in this category. There is also competition from overseas, as India has become a major exporter of pickles to the U.S. This growing competition from countries with lower wages will continue to put pressure on domestic cucumber growers and pickle producers. Tito’s strives to source as many cucumbers and pickles as possible from Texas, working with growers in Uvalde and other regions.

Tito’s is currently the only company producing individually packaged pickles in Texas and enjoys good relationships with other Texas pickle producers as a result. Tito’s is working to continually strengthen these relationships to become increasingly competitive in the individually packaged pickle category, which is a large market and opportunity for Tito’s and Texas cucumber growers as a whole. This category presents a major opportunity for Tito’s and will remain the focus for future growth for the foreseeable future.

The focus on sourcing Texas grown cucumbers is both personal and business for Tito’s. From a personal standpoint, Tito’s ownership knows that the U.S. and Texas economies are strengthened when farmers are supported by food processors and consumers.

“This is the most sustainable way to ensure a steady food supply chain for U.S. consumers,” Snider said. “From a strictly business standpoint, the desire to source Texas cucumbers stems from the quality of Texas cucumbers, the reduced transportation costs and times and the ability to work directly with growers to make sure that the unique requirements to package pickles in individual packages are understood and met.”

This commitment to sourcing Texas cucumbers led Tito’s to joining the
GO TEXAN program. Tito’s also enjoys doing business with a number of Texas entities, including stores located in Texas State Parks.

The interaction with the GO TEXAN program has provided a number of opportunities which Tito’s has benefited from. Tito’s products were included in bags placed in suites at a Texas Tech football game. Attendees of the game who saw products in these bags were exposed to many GO TEXAN member products that they may have never otherwise seen. Soon after this, Tito’s was contacted by one of these attendees who wanted to place Tito’s products in convenience stores located throughout West Texas. Tito’s products have also been featured at the State Fair of Texas®, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and other high traffic venues where Tito’s would not otherwise have had exposure.

Tito’s was also the recipient of a GO TEXAN Partner Program marketing grant in 2014. Tito’s was able to use these funds to help offset the marketing costs associated with launching the new individually packaged pickle line.

“The reduced marketing costs increased Tito’s competitiveness in this category and allowed for improved market penetration in addition to further incentivizing Tito’s to source cucumbers from Texas during their product launch,” Snider said. “New product launches are always difficult as companies, especially smaller ones, don’t have the volumes necessary to purchase materials at prices consistent with their competitors who already have significant market share, resulting in reduced profitability and cash flow which the GO TEXAN grant helped overcome for Tito’s.”

Tito’s continues to take advantage of the product placement opportunities that
GO TEXAN provides.

“These are excellent low or no cost opportunities that put Tito’s products in
front of consumers and others that may not otherwise see them,” Snider said.

Tito’s advises other GO TEXAN members to participate in these programs.

“It is a rare opportunity when a company can get their products in front of hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people for the cost of samples.”

If you’d like to find out more about Texas Tito’s products, visit their website and Facebook page.
August 2016: Dirrty Swamp


DIRRTY SWAMP: TEXAS BORN, LOUISIANA ROOTS


If at first you succeed, package that stuff up and sell it. That might not have been the motto that Joey Victorian started with, but it’s not too far from the experience that led him to start Dirrty Swamp seasonings. Victorian first entered Rodeo Austin’s Barbecue Cook-Off as part of a team named “the Dirrty Swamp Cookers,” and they did well enough to continue entering other cook-offs in Texas ever since.

“Throughout the years, at various competitions, events and dinner parties, I have been asked countless times, ‘What do use to season your meat?’” Victorian said. “The truth was I always used the same basic spices — I just mixed them together myself as I was preparing to cook. In 2013, after my second year at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I decided to take my spice mixture and make it something real, so that’s what I did!”

Known to his teammates as the “Dirrty Boss,” Victorian was born and raised in Houston by parents who are Louisiana natives. He recalls spending a significant amount of time in Louisiana when he was growing up, and that made all the difference in his cooking.  Victorian said his mother’s Louisiana-style cooking was a huge influence.

“I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember,” Victorian said. “My mother always told me, ‘If you don’t have a dime on you, you will still be able to cook and feed yourself.’”
Victorian’s wife, Kelli, is a talented marketing professional and graphic designer with more than nine years of experience designing for some of the top companies in Houston. Kelli was a huge asset in the beginning, as marketing collateral, logos and packaging design can be a major expense for new companies. With his talent in the kitchen and hers in graphic design, Dirrty Swamp is geared towards continued success. Their seasoning comes in three flavors: Creole Seasoning in  Hot Creole and Original and Black Pepper Seasoning. They are available in retail stores and online.

“It was a long process to get into retail stores, but we did it!” Victorian said. “The first store who wanted our product was Cypress Ace Hardware, and to this day, they sell the most seasoning of any single store we are in. After this store, we were able to get into about 10 more Ace Hardware stores in the Houston and surrounding areas. Then, it took us about six months to get into more than 60 Houston-area Kroger stores and over a year and a half to get into around 145 H-E-B stores.”

True to its roots, Dirrty Swamp continues to incorporate their seasonings into their competition cooking under the name Dirrty’s BBQ Company in the Houston and Austin areas. They will also soon be expanding to a food trailer for catering and events. For more information on this fast-growing company, visit their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
September 2016:
October 2016:
November 2016:
December 2016:
Who's going to be next?
Each month we select an outstanding GO TEXAN member to spotlight here and share with the world. We will travel around the state, highlighting our proud GO TEXAN members – big and small, from the Valley to the Panhandle, from West to East. Who will it be next? Bookmark this page and come back around June 15th and you'll find out.
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