By Alicia Cunningham | Aug 17, 2016
Woods Cross, Utah
Gourmet Snack Chips
Established: November 1996
Woods Cross, Utah
When Laurie Seron moved to Utah, she and her husband noticed one little thing was lacking in their new community: ethnic food.
“We came from Southern California. My husband is Hispanic, and his mom taught me to make tortilla chips. When there was so little ethnic food available in Utah, my husband coaxed me into making my own chips and selling them locally,” Seron says.
“I thought it would be a once-in-awhile business, and my husband thought it would be a good work experience for the kids. He liked the idea that a family business would give the kids something to do,” Seron adds.
So this family of eight started making tortilla chips together. Initial manufacturing for Buffalo Tortilla Chips started in a local hamburger restaurant after the hamburger patrons had gone home. This gave the Seron family access to the deep fryers. “We started selling in all the specialty grocery stores,” Seron says.
This was not too overwhelming for the new business. “There were only two in Utah at that time,” she adds. As demand grew, Buffalo Tortilla Chips moved into a small commercial kitchen. But demand kept increasing as more specialty markets came on the scene forcing Seron to make a change.
“The business grew really fast. It was not something that we expected, initially.” So Seron made a decision to reach out to a co-packer, Manuel’s Fine Foods, and Buffalo Tortilla Chips became Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet.
“They had the capability to meet demand and produce the volume we needed,” Seron says. “They really helped us. Our success as a business would not have happened without them.”
With the manufacturing process in good hands, Seron can focus on giving back and helping small business owners get their own start.
“It can be an interesting, challenging road, especially for women,” Seron says. “The food world is made up of 85-90 percent men. It can be hard to be taken seriously. I needed help. There were angels and mentors along my way. I want to be that for someone else. I now have time to get back to what I am really about. I now can help because it’s impossible to build your business on your own.”
Challenges: Keeping up with competition. “We are in a competitive category in the grocery store,” Seron shares. “The challenge has always been to keep on top of the trend with flavors and ensuring we keep space on the shelf.”
Opportunities: Seron is focused on helping other businesses grow and has become the Business Liaison for the Department of Agriculture’s program, Utah’s Own. “Food people are brave. And now we can share resources, offer assistance, and help people to make it,” she says.
Needs: New markets. Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet is looking to expand its clientele by reaching out to a new resource: basket companies. “I have a new product specifically for basket companies,” Seron says. “Basket companies survive on their uniqueness. They need products that are not offered in the retail stores. My goal is to get more basket company business for this new product.”