The only thing better than enjoying the delicious smell of Braswell's Foods filling the air downtown and enjoying their incredible products is watching the continued and creative growth of this Statesboro staple.
Founded in 1946 by Albert Braswell, using his mom's recipe, he began canning and selling pear preserves out of the back of his truck. More than 60 years later, Braswell's of Georgia has grown into one of the country's largest producers of specialty jams, jellies, sauces, marmalades, salsas and several other products.
In 2005, Andrew Oliver, Vinny Kochetta, Frank Farr and Stuart Saussy purchased the company from the Braswell family. The four partners had worked many years with Albert and had a strong desire not only to keep what was built going, but to constantly improve the quality and efficiency of the marketing and manufacturing and aggressively grow the business.
In business school, they teach that there are two keys to success, be first or be different. With this in mind, the new Braswell's team focused on ways to differentiate their products. For years, Braswell's produced excellent, high quality products that were private labeled for small independent businesses all over the country.
With a strong and reliable base in place for the company's operations, the partners knew they had to find ways to differentiate the products and grow the Braswell brand. So, they focused on two areas: Identifying and creating more unusual and modern flavors to appeal to the changing tastes and redesign the packaging to provide a retro and environmentally-friendly edge.
The first roll out of the new design was using glassware found in France that could be sealed with a press on cap from Europe.
The new product line - Braswell Select - really changed how the company was viewed in the high-end specialty food community. With this change came international awards for their products. Because they were branded, it greatly strengthened the Braswell name and helped draw attention to their other products, as well.
Not wanting to cannibalize the Braswell Select brand, the partners created a second line of products in glassware that was more affordable and could be distributed for higher volume accounts like grocery store chains. With shelf space being very competitive, they had to create a product that not only tasted good, had good value, but looked attractive and different enough to capture a buyer's attention.
They met the challenge with carafe-shaped glassware that was shrink-wrapped with full package graphics and allowed them to reintroduce their dressing line of products. In the last year, because of the design tweaks, Braswell's has seen huge growth in the carafe line of dressings and now are in major grocery stores throughout the country including, Publix, Kroger, Whole Foods, Ingles, Walmart, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and locally, Bi-LO.
With this success, they went back to the drawing board with their other products and developed a footed glassware for their popular preserves.
"After working with a glass manufacturer and incorporating the design with our production team for the most efficient size and shape, we came up with a package that has captured the attention of buyers and consumers," said Andy Oliver, president and CEO. "However, with a limited sales force and a small distribution chain it takes a long time to push a new product."
The promotion frustration led Oliver to reach out to marketing specialists that formerly worked for the Cartoon Network.
From time to time, the marketing specialist would send Oliver a synopsis of toy and licensing shows. One day, while reading a summary of one of his shows, he stumbled upon a write-up of the new "Minion" movie from Universal Studios.
Their new footed glassware looked very similar to a "Minion" character. With the new shrink-wrap applicator, Oliver envisioned an army of Minions representing the flavors of Braswell jellies lined up on grocery store shelves throughout the country.
So, the Braswell's team went to work on predesign ideas and presentations to present to NBC/Universal, which led to months of work with NBC/Universal and the Braswell's team. From negotiating royalties, completing insurance requirements, plant audits and mountains of paperwork they were ready for their final meeting in New York.
The director of licensing for NBC/Universal manages more than 500 licensees from soap to apparel to toys to food in every country of the world. After inking the "Minion" deal, which is part of the wildly popular "Despicable Me" franchise, in January, Braswell's has gone through multiple contract changes and design changes, which had to be approved at every level of NBC/Universal Studios.
The Braswell Minion product was approved just in time for the new Minions movie scheduled for worldwide release on July 10th. By aligning Braswell Food Company with the Minion movie and Universal Studios they will rapidly increase the identity of the brand which will allow millions of new consumers to learn about Braswell's quality products and innovation.
"Our team was poised for this opportunity and frankly the timing was right for Braswell's to take advantage of this big break," Oliver said. "In recent years, we have upgraded our clientele, the sales team, the plant, machinery, the level of auditing and efficiency. If we hadn't been constantly moving in all those directions we wouldn't have even been able to get the license,"
Because their desire to make a great product even better, the rest of the world will soon discover what all of us have known for years, there is nothing that compares to the taste, quality and value of Braswell's.
Please email DeWayne at email@example.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.
• A new Family Dollar is coming to Hwy 80 West across from Advanced Auto Parts near Walker Pharmacy, on the former Altman Pontiac property. The old building will be torn down for the new construction. Statesboro Properties was the listing broker that sold the former dealership. The adjacent small building is still available and will be sold separately by Statesboro Properties. For information on the small building with acreage, contact Nick Propps at directly at (912) 681-5500. Work should begin soon on the new Family Dollar.
• Statesboro radio station WPTB 850 AM has been upgraded to include FM - WPTB 99.7 FM. The format, Yahoo Sports Radio will remain the same on AM 850 and now FM 99.7. Owner, Neal Ardman is working to upgrade WWNS 1240 to FM also in the next few months.