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Backstory: Entrepreneur puts modified family recipe on NC shelves

vbridges@newsobserver.comMarch 18, 2013 

Michael Lloyd, owner of NumNum saude in Durham.

VIRGINIA BRIDGES — vbridges@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • Advice from Michael Lloyd •  Believe in your product. •  Try to build your business while you have an alternative revenue stream. •  Be totally committed to the success of your business. •  Be a visionary and plan out where your business is headed. •  Be able to learn from and adjust to consumer demand.

— Michael Lloyd wants to parlay a fourth-generation family recipe into a condiment company that delivers taste and nutrition.

The pharmaceutical scientist used his science background to create NumNum Sauce, his version of his family’s Faison & Faison BBQ Sauce, a condiment that his great-grandfather sold in grocery stores for 22 years.

In 2004, Lloyd visited Daytona Beach, where his grandfather, Archie Faison, taught him how to make the family’s sauce.

“He told me to shake it up and take it back to North Carolina,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd modified the recipe by eliminating processed ingredients, including ketchup, and creating a scalable formula, he said.

“It’s not the same product,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd started developing the company in early 2008 after earning a master’s in biology from N.C. Central and then being laid off from his pharmaceutical job.

Lloyd explored introducing his sauce in the specialty food industry, which represents 13.7 percent of all food retail sales, according to the Specialty Food Association.

“I sat on my computer and started to figure it out,” Lloyd said.

He sought help in developing his business plan from the Small Business Technology and Development Center at N.C. Central, identified a bottle that would stand out on store shelves and got involved with Goodness Grows in N.C., a Department of Agriculture marketing program that promotes products that are grown or manufactured in North Carolina.

Through the program, Lloyd was invited to a food artisan summit in which regional buyers from Whole Food tasted his products.

By early 2009, NumNum was in five Whole Food stores in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary and Winston-Salem. By the end of that same year, Fresh Market had also started selling the sauce in select stores.

Meanwhile, Lloyd landed a job at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Sanford. Until March 2010, he worked during the day, mixed and assembled sauces at night and did store demonstrations on the weekends.

That same year, Lloyd secured a $10,000 loan from the Self-Help Credit Union that went toward equipment and marketing. In 2011, Lloyd also received a $15,000 loan from Generations Community Credit Union to help him increase his production from three, 20-gallon batches a month, to two, 60-gallon batches a month.

Lloyd, 34, is now working on his food and nutritional sciences doctorate at N.C. State University.

He continues to build the business that now sells sauces and mustards in 24 stores, mostly in the Carolinas, and produces about 1,200 bottles a month in a small-scale manufacturing facility in his home.

He is transitioning to cheaper bottles with new labels that highlight the healthy elements – such as low sodium and no gluten – of his sauces, and plans to pour the estimated 35 percent packaging savings into increasing in-store demonstrations and rolling out a NumNum food truck in April.

Lloyd also wants to hire interns to help educate the public about the benefits of a low-sodium condiment.

He hopes to market NumNum to schools as a replacement for other higher-sodium condiments, and is in the planning stages of putting together a test model for consumer acceptance of condiments that have been enhanced with fiber and other antioxidants.

“We are trying to establish applications beyond flavor enhancing,” Lloyd said.

Bridges: 919-829-8917

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