Colorado Business on the Brink of Exponential Growth
BAR U EAT started, quite literally, in a home kitchen. Unsatisfied with the granola and protein bar options in local stores in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Sam Nelson decided to make his own.
He began making snack bars for family and friends and eventually they convinced him to sell the products. He teamed up with his life-long friend, Jason Friday, and BAR U EAT was created. Today, the business makes and sells a variety of snack bars and bites, described as sweet and savory, made of all natural organic ingredients with plant-based 100% compostable packaging.
“Everything that we do is completely hand-made, we stir, mix, roll, cut, and hand package everything,” Friday said.
The products continue to grow in popularity. Their first year the products were in 40 stores in 12 states. Last year that expanded to 140 stores in 22 states.
“Up until this point, what’s been limiting us is our ability to manufacture,” Friday said. “The demand is definitely there. People love the product and if they try it once they always come back for more.”
The business is now on the brink of exponential growth.
BAR U EAT is using a $250,000 loan to purchase manufacturing equipment and for additional working capital. The loan was made through the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, which along with partners Colorado Enterprise Fund and BSide Capital, administers a statewide Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The RLF is capitalized from an $8 million EDA investment.
Friday says the equipment, a bar forming machine and a flow wrapping machine, will operate at 100 bars per minute, much faster than their current process of hand-making everything. He expects the manufacturing equipment will take the business’ annual production from 120,000 bars per year to six million, and he hopes by the end of 2022 the products will be in 1,000 retailers.
“The loan is allowing us to grow a lot faster than we ever otherwise would have been able to. It’s going to allow us to hire staff and to contribute to the local economy. We’re able to bring people on with well-paying jobs above the median income and we plan on offering benefits,” Friday said.
BAR U EAT will be hiring 10 employees this year and is expanding into a 5,600 square foot production facility and distribution in Routt County, a coal community in Northern Colorado.
They hope to be up and running with the new facility and equipment by May of 2022.