Goodman Manufacturing Co. has been making its distinctive vanilla blend, containing pure vanilla extract and other natural and artificial flavors, for nearly 100 years. Mike and Michelle Kimrey purchased the company in 2003 and moved it from Carthage to Marshfield, where it has grown steadily over time, most recently with a warehouse expansion and the addition of a new filling machine that allows them to run up to 40 bottles per minute. “That’s a lot of bottles,” Mike says. In addition to the original vanilla blend, they make two dozen other flavors, including banana, rum, peppermint and black walnut.
SBJ: How do you account for the popularity of this product?
Mike Kimrey: People don’t like to change much. If they find a product they like, they want to keep using it. If you’re going to bake and you’re investing that time and money, you might as well buy something that you know is good.
Michelle Kimrey: As we’re growing into areas that don’t know Goodman’s, it looks like quality on the shelf. It has the glass bottle and the retro look, and it’s the old-fashioned goodness that people want in baked goods. Plus, it’s reasonably priced compared to other bottles of the same size.
SBJ: Besides the retro look, it’s a product that people may remember seeing in their grandparents’ kitchen, looking very much the same. Is nostalgia a factor in its success?
Michelle: We hear that so often – that’s what my grandma always used. It’s heartwarming.
Mike: We might be responsible for putting a few pounds on people over the years.
SBJ: There are also a lot of recipes, for your vanilla and for all of your flavors. Is this product mostly for serious bakers?
Michelle: You don’t have to be a scratch baker to use vanilla. It’s wonderful added to beverages like Coke or coffee, and you can make your own coffee creamer with any extracts and whatever cream or sweetener you like to use. People put it in their oatmeal and cereal – it’s not necessarily only for home-baked items.
SBJ: How does this vanilla formulation differ from the others you offer?
Michelle: We have our Original Vanilla Double Strength Natural & Artificial, but we also offer pure vanilla, white vanilla and natural vanilla. The natural is also a blend; we wanted a natural version of our original vanilla, but we didn’t want to change our original vanilla, since so many people love it. The natural is a blend of pure vanilla with other natural flavors.
Mike: It’s double strength, for one thing, and it’s really good, with a reasonable price compared to straight, pure vanilla.
SBJ: Vanilla seems very “vanilla.” Do you see vanilla as mundane?
Mike: Not at all. It’s hand pollinated, and it takes a long time from the time it’s grown before it’s used to make extract. It has to dry, so it’s very hands-on agriculture.
Michelle: A lot of the ingredients are sourced in the United States, and so is our packaging, but the vanilla comes from other countries. Madagascar has about 80% of the world’s vanilla bean market.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.