Nearly a century into its existence, there’s nothing vanilla about the growth Goodman Manufacturing Co. is experiencing.
The Marshfield-based manufacturer first produced its vanilla flavoring formula in 1927 and has since added over two dozen products to its roster of flavorings, extracts and food colorings. Many of those additions have come since Mike and Michelle Kimrey became owners in 2003.
The couple expanded the company’s product distribution to more than two dozen states – a footprint more than six times the size of when they took ownership.
“Last year was our best year ever,” Mike says, declining to disclose annual revenue.
The company sold a record-high 530,000 of its Goodman’s-branded signature glass bottles last year. Michelle says sales are on pace to reach 700,000 bottles this year – a 32% increase from 2019.
The Kimreys estimate revenue has grown 20%-30% over the past four years after connecting with Valu Merchandising Co., a subsidiary of Kansas City, Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. The warehouse distributor helped expand the reach of Goodman’s products into new grocery chains, such as Reasor’s in Oklahoma, Food Giant in Alabama and Riesbeck’s in Ohio.
“We’re just getting out there more and getting into new chains,” Mike says, noting Goodman’s will be in St. Louis-based Schnuck’s stores starting this fall. “We’re just spreading our territory out.”
New products also are in the plan for the fall, with a trio of chocolate extracts to be unveiled in dark, white and mint flavors.
Mike was familiar with the Goodman’s brand in his mom’s kitchen while growing up. He later made a professional connection with Robert and Connie Goodman, the third-generation owners of the company started in Carthage by John William Goodman.
Mike worked in sales for 13 years for Chem Supply Co., a now-shuttered industrial chemical business in Springfield. Through selling ingredients to the Goodmans, he learned Robert Goodman was planning to retire and had no family members in line to take over the company.
“We just thought it would be a good chance to get into a nice, established business. Things just progressed from there,” Mike says, adding it took a couple of years to seal the deal.
Michelle says the company’s track record of producing high-quality products with low overhead was attractive. It also wasn’t a franchise and had no required fees, she says, declining to disclose the purchase price.
Upon the Kimreys taking over, Goodman’s was only distributed in the four-state area in a 200-mile radius of Carthage. Today, it’s in 25 states and roughly 1,600 stores.
“We’re on the verge of really big growth in several directions,” Michelle says.
She says they want to grow their reach toward the coasts before year’s end, but declines to name states as distribution deals are still in progress.
Before entering expansion mode, the Kimreys chose a decade ago to exit Carthage. The couple in 2010 moved the business and their family to Marshfield, attracted by the affordability of residential and commercial property.
With five current employees, Goodman’s uses automation in its production line – and has since 1976, Mike says. Today, machines apply the caps, neckbands, labels and dates, while the bottles move down the conveyor belt. He says automation has allowed for a small workforce at the company for decades.
However, as bottling production grows, new hires and expansion of the 8,000-square-foot building may be necessary.
“We’re not going to do anything until we absolutely have to,” he says. “That’s just the way we run.”
While some aspects of the company have changed under the Kimreys’ ownership, one that hasn’t is the old-fashioned look of the products. Glass bottles have been used since day one, and the couple has no intention of changing it. Michelle says industry competitors, such as McCormick & Co., have moved away from glass to save in production and shipping costs.
“We’re pretty committed to glass. That’s part of the quality of our product,” Michelle says, adding the original vanilla formula that mixes pure vanilla extract and imitation flavoring remains the top-seller. “That’s important to conscientious shoppers, too, because it’s fully recyclable.”
It’s a traditional and attractive look for the product, says Doug Spradlin, art director at Ample Industries Inc. The Nixa-based company produces food product labels for clients all over the country, he says, noting it has worked with Goodman’s for nearly four decades.
Ample prints labels for Goodman’s at least every quarter, Spradlin says, declining to disclose order sizes or costs.
“They’ve been revising their design in recent months,” he says of the Kimreys. “They’ve done a good job of keeping the design traditional, but updating it.”
As Goodman’s product line – currently at 31 – grows, the owners desire to keep building relationships with more grocery stores. Getting Goodman’s on store shelves in all 48 contiguous states is a five-year goal.
“We’ve been in business 93 years. It’s a pretty easy sales pitch,” Mike says.
Michelle says the company’s growth this year has been partially fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s inspired more people to spend time in their kitchen.
“People are into baking right now, and we’re hoping it stays that way for a while,” she says.
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