1908 Brands moves Boulder headquarters, expands Longmont space- Company Week

Founder and CEO Steve Savage will leverage a powerful team and nearly three decades of natural products insight to double his company’s revenues in 2017.

Savage knows a thing or two about the natural products market. Before launching the company that eventually became 1908 Brands in 2010, he founded Boulder’s Eco-Products in 1990 and ran the company until its sale in 2012.

Boulder Clean was at Eco-Products,” he says of his current company’s first brand acquisition, “but when Eco-Products started focusing in on the food service category, we discontinued a lot of other things, including natural cleaners. Instead of letting it die, I basically started Natural Eco Wholesale, also known as NEW, to absorb it.”

NEW represented more than 100 natural products manufacturers to 1,000 or more retailers until Savage elected to sell the wholesale portion of the business in 2012 and transition it into the 1908 Brands of today.

“Wholesaling was never our long-term strategy,” he explains. “But it gave us better visibility and insight into hot trends, generated more revenue, and gave us the opportunity to sell a part of the business to get cash to fund our long-term objective, which was to own our own brands.”

That insight guided him to the purchase of several other natural products manufacturers over the last five years including CompoKeeper, Thrive Tribe (formerly Wholly Bites), Fruitivity Snacks (formerly Appleooz), Schultz’s, and Yummari. The company also partners with Pasta Jay’s to sell the restaurant’s pasta sauces and salad dressings.

The strength of the buffalo is in the herd' is an expression I like," Savage says. "And leveraging our resources -- including our team -- to make each brand under 1908 Brands successful is our biggest current opportunity." He expects the company will double its employee count in 2017.
- Steve Savage

NEW represented more than 100 natural products manufacturers to 1,000 or more retailers until Savage elected to sell the wholesale portion of the business in 2012 and transition it into the 1908 Brands of today.

“Wholesaling was never our long-term strategy,” he explains. “But it gave us better visibility and insight into hot trends, generated more revenue, and gave us the opportunity to sell a part of the business to get cash to fund our long-term objective, which was to own our own brands.”

That insight guided him to the purchase of several other natural products manufacturers over the last five years including CompoKeeper, Thrive Tribe (formerly Wholly Bites), Fruitivity Snacks (formerly Appleooz), Schultz’s, and Yummari. The company also partners with Pasta Jay’s to sell the restaurant’s pasta sauces and salad dressings.

1908 Brands manufactures Fruitivity, Yummari, Thrive Tribe, and Three Bears — a new natural oat brand they’ve created from scratch — at an 8,800-square-foot facility in Longmont that houses the company’s kitchen and warehouse. Schultz’s is manufactured in Wisconsin, and CompoKeeper is made in California. Manufacturing of Boulder Clean takes place in both Denver and Wisconsin. Pasta Jay’s is still producing their sauces at the restaurant in Boulder, but the plan is to move production to a co-packer soon.

Challenges: “Just like most natural foods companies that have to compete with larger companies that use cheap ingredients and spend millions and billions on marketing, it’s hard to get shelf space,” Savage says. His strategy to overcome this obstacle? Focus on conservative shoppers while keeping prices low and products simple.

“We really go after the bulk of the population, not just those shopping at [natural grocers],” says Savage. “And we do this by keeping our ingredients simple, our products price-competitive, and doing a better job at educating consumers. In the long run, we will win.”

1908 Brands will be unveiling Three Bears at the 2017 Natural Products Expo West in California on March 9, along with multiple new flavors of Fruitivity Snacks’ crunchy apple chips, and several new BBQ sauces and hot sauce flavors from Schultz’s. Additionally, Thrive Tribe’s new paleo snack bars boosted with MegaFood Supplements will launch at the popular natural products convention.

Read the rest of Company Week’s profile on 1908 Brands.