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Jeff Brinkhoff, CEO
Jeff Brinkhoff, CEO

2013 Dynamic Dozen No. 3: Red Monkey Foods

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Though its name alone is enough to turn a few heads, Red Monkey Foods makes its money largely behind the scenes.

The bulk of the Mount Vernon-based company’s revenues - roughly 85 percent - come from designing and distributing products in the private-label industry, says Red Monkey CEO Jeff Brinkhoff.

The company manufactures products for what Brinkhoff calls the niche gourmet market, items such as spices, spice grinders, rubs and other food accessories. The company also sells its line of house-brand products both in stores and at, with its biggest push in its seasonings line, Brinkhoff says, pointing to its Mango Habanera as a top seller.

Brinkhoff says the company serves about 14 clients, including big names such as Safeway, Target, Supervalu, H-E-B and Hy-Vee, as well as local grocers Price Cutter and Harter House.

“Our niche is offering products that a lot of the big elephants like McCormick or ACH would not do,” Brinkhoff says. “A lot of the large companies don’t want to focus on the private label of higher gross categories, such as grinders, seasonings and rubs, so our niche is to really be able to go into these retailers and help individualize their offering, almost making it indicative to them or exclusive to them.

“Instead of just offering the commodities, the normal spices, we’re able to put a flair to it, and really help differentiate them from maybe the retailer down the road.”

It is these large clients the company counts on. Brinkhoff says profitability in clients can cause a chain reaction of revenues in his own business.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be with some major retailers that have gone through some significant growth themselves,” he says, declining to disclose specific companies. “If you have two or three major clients - large retailers - that are growing 10 to 30 percent a year, adding anywhere from 15 to 50 stores a year on their end, that of course drives our sales.”

By picking up bigger clients, Brinkhoff says the food manufacturer now extends its reach nationally, and the results are showing.

Red Monkey’s revenues shot up to $11.36 million in 2012, resulting in three-year revenue growth of 81 percent after posting 2010 revenues of $6.28 million. The company’s revenues hit $7.8 million in 2011, equating to a 45.5 percent increase by the end of last year.

Red Monkey also has reached national acclaim two years running with placement on the Inc. 5000, which ranks the fast-growing privately held companies in the country. Red Monkey debuted on the 2011 list at No. 465, reporting three-year revenue growth of 753 percent.

The company followed that performance the next year with placement of 1,386th, representing three-year revenue growth of 217 percent.

Brinkhoff estimates 25 percent to 30 percent growth in 2013 compared to 2012.

“We’re a turnkey solution for these retailers,” he says. “They rely on us to suggest what seasonings are selling, what trendsetters are coming down the pipeline, what spices should be carried in particular seasons versus others. We serve as an expert in the spice category.”

Speaking to the gourmet manufacturer’s quick success – the company was founded in 2002 – Brinkhoff is fast to point the spotlight off of himself and on to Red Monkey’s employee base, which had settled in at about 98 in April, after hitting 104 in 2012 from 58 in 2010.

“At the end of the day, I’m just one person, but it takes a group working together,” Brinkhoff says. “We’ve made a name for ourselves out in the private-label industry.”[[In-content Ad]]


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