How It All Began...
Spring 1996: Juan's passion for peppers and making gourmet salsa turns into part-time business. Sean Sullivan’s hobby and passion for raising peppers and making gourmet salsa took on a whole new dimension when his employer filed for bankruptcy. At that point, Sean and his wife Becki started selling their homegrown peppers and gourmet salsa at the Des Moines Farmers Market to help support themselves and their two young children. The initial response to their salsa product was overwhelming, so-much-so, that within a few short months, the Sullivan’s began receiving unsolicited phone calls from dozens of loyal customers throughout the state of Iowa. They not only raved about Juan OSullivans Salsa, they were placing repeat orders for themselves and family and friends.
Summer 1998: Demand for the Sullivan’s gourmet salsa is so overwhelming that the Sullivan’s draft a business plan.
Sean and Becki's passion for making Juan's Gourmet Salsa grew in direct proportion to their customers' growing demand. Customers began placing orders for Christmas and other gift-giving occasions. Some were ordering a case at a time.
The Sullivan’s continued to expand their garden and their customer base. And they were prize-winning exhibitors in the Iowa State Fair competition on several different occasions. Says Bill Turner, superintendent of agricultural and horticultural crops at the Iowa State Fair: "Sean and Becki have achieved something that I've been trying to convey to Iowa growers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs for years. Just because you live in Iowa, doesn't mean you have to raise and/or rely on traditional Iowa crops. The opportunities for developing new products and markets are limited only by your innovation, creativity and imagination."
Spring 1999: the Sullivans reach a great milestone when their product labelling is approved.
The Sullivan’s received their Food Processing Plant license for their home-based commercial kitchen which they built in 1998. Granted by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the license enables the Sullivan’s to sell their trade-marked salsa through retail outlets in Iowa and throughout the United States.
The Sullivan’s have since introduced their salsa products to several Iowa gourmet retail outlets in Iowa. And in June, they reached yet another milestone when they began offering Juan O'Sullivan's Gourmet Salsa on their new web site. Meanwhile, they say all the signs of spring are pointing to a favorable year for another bounty of peppers and tomatoes. Currently Juan’s, now in business for over ten years, maintains a policy of strictly adhering to their foundation principles of growing and grilling their own chile and making Juan’s salsa product in their small commercial kitchen.