In this Salute to American Success, we’re taking a look at Primizie and founders Mark and Lisa Spedale. Originally in the restaurant and catering business, Mark and Lisa entered the snack foods industry after creating Primizie, which specializes in making packaged, thick-cut specialty snack chips.
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The road to success for Mark and Lisa Spedale began in 1999-2000, when the husband and wife team started a small, local catering company in Austin, Texas. Around the same time, they opened a restaurant as well. Mark already had a background in the food industry, graduating from a culinary arts school and spending 15 years working in kitchens.
While Mark was already in the catering business, he took a trip to Italy with his father, which helped him shape his idea for the Primizie Crispbread.
“We started in Rome and went all over the country during our month-long trip,” said Mark Spedale. “There was a specific bread I was looking for… a flat bread that was good for putting any type of dip or topping on.”
Back in the states, Mark took what he learned during his trip and, along with his wife, put it to use with their catering business.
“We needed to do something with the leftover bread and also wanted to create a unique product to use with hors d'oeuvres,” said Lisa Spedale. “We grill our bread, then crisp it and hand-cut it into chip-size pieces, which gives it good dipability characteristics for different cheeses and dips.”
In 2011, after suggestions from customers and family, the couple decided to sell their crispbreads to retailers. Early on, Mark and Lisa did all the work themselves from within their kitchen.
“Our business was small scale at first,” said Lisa. “We sold our product to local grocery stores.”
Then, in 2012, the duo “officially launched” their Primizie snack business, receiving funding from outside sources.
“Originally, we launched with three flavors and were able to find a distributor quickly,” said Lisa.
According to Mark and Lisa, in 2013, the company grossed $1.3 million in revenue and was selling to about 2,000 stores nationwide. Today, the product is sold in more than 7,000 stores nationwide, bringing in around $3 million in revenue.
“We have seen triple-digit growth per year up to this point,” said Lisa. “Right now we have 12 employees and will be adding around five more this year.”
They also benefit from Austin, the city where the company’s headquarters is located.
“Austin has a huge community of food entrepreneurs… from products like barbeque sauce to vodka. People here like local stuff and are very supportive of entrepreneurs,” said Lisa.
Of course, the company does see competition from other types of chips and dippable foods.
“Pita chips are one of our main competitors,” said Lisa. “A difference [between Primizie and pita] is the cooking process.”
ADVICE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS
Both entrepreneurs agree that success depends on the people behind the scenes.
“We didn’t really have a business background except for our catering company and restaurant, but we were able to get a great group of mentors out of the gate,” said Lisa. Mark added, “it’s also very important to hire employees who have good experience.”
In the future, Mark and Lisa are looking to expand the product line of Primizie snacks.
“The company is focused on innovation. We want to create new flavors and new sizes,” said Lisa. “Our goal is to hit $7.5 million in revenue.”
As for advice to those thinking about opening their own business, they say it’s all about dedication.
“The hardest part to starting a business is committing to it. You have to go all in.”