DREAM BIG Small Business Award Finalist: Renfro Foods, Inc.

May 2, 2012

Seven regional finalists are competing to be named the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam's Club®. The winner, to be announced on May 22 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Chamber.

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award pays tribute to businesses that excel in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and strategy.  The finalists were selected from 75 Blue Ribbon Award winners.

FreeEnterprise.com interviewed each of the finalists to learn more about what makes them special. Below is our chat with Renfro Foods.

Southwest & South Central Region

Renfro Foods, Fort Worth, Texas - A family run co-packing, manufacturing, and foodservices business known for its salsas and relishes sold under the Mrs. Renfro’s food label.

How did Renfro Foods get started?

President Doug Renfro: My grandfather George worked in the food business calling on stores and selling garlic, spices—whatever he could. He got into his own business in 1940. A few years later, he bought a local syrup business. It’s been an evolutionary process. When I was a kid, we just made relishes; before that, syrups. Now, we mainly do salsas and other sorts of condiments.

What makes your products unique?

The thing that makes our products unique is the variety of flavors. Twenty years ago, we would go to a trade show and all we had was hot, medium, and mild. One day we threw some black beans into the medium salsa. We went to store buyers and said, ‘You have lots of salsas, but you don’t have any variety. You don’t have a black bean salsa that can be on the shelf every day for $2.49.’ We were just making it up as we went along, but they actually bought it, and we became pioneers in the value pricing of variety salsa.

What makes Renfro Foods a great place to work?

We have very low turnover. Our philosophy is that turnover is bad. New employees make mistakes and cost money. So our longevity program is based on the fact that we pay more than we need to. We pay 75% of health insurance for the whole family. We do 401(k) matching. Our employees feel the best thing about working for Renfro is the family environment. Out of a company of 40 people, 5 are Renfros.

What is the secret to your success?

A big secret to our success is family interaction. It’s a true democracy. There hasn’t been anybody here with majority control since my grandmother, so all of us have to get along. The decision-making process is dynamic—it’s not a committee so to speak, but it is very informal. On anything major, we all sit around and talk about it.

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