Applemaster: Crispy fruit snack has business blossoming
So in 2005, he decided to buy a dehydrator and an apple peeler to come up with another use for the leftover harvest.
He experimented with skin on, skin off, thick cut, thin cut, marinated in juice and au naturel. The dehydration and prep process Wood settled on produced sweet, thin, dried apple slices that crunched like potato chips.
At that point, trying to keep up with the demand from those original recipients led him to a business plan.
Wood sold his first batch of Appleooz (pronounced ap-pul-looz) at a holiday fair in December 2012. In fact, he sold out.
"I had to go back to my house and pack up more in baggies and put labels on them," he said, "and then I sold out again the next day."
Wood's company, ReMarkable Foods LLC, markets Appleooz today as its only product. He has moved production to kitchen space he leases from My Mom's Pies in Niwot but the process remains pretty much the same.
Appleooz come from a variety of fresh apples with added organic and natural fruit juices and cinnamon. They are then slowly dehydrated to a crunchy texture.
The snack has no added sugar or preservatives other than what the apples bring to the bag.
Wood – whose official title is "Applemaster" – describes his primary market as kids and his primary goal as providing them with a healthy snack. To meet those goals, Wood contacted the Boulder Valley School District's director of nutrition services chef, Ann Cooper.
"As a sales and marketing person, I feel that the best way to sell my product is for people to sample it so I set an appointment and brought samples," Wood said. "She liked them and asked what the nutritional value was."
With one-half cup of dried fruit delivering the same nutritional value as one cup of fresh fruit, Appleooz met the standard and the partnership began.
Since Novemeber, BVSD has been handing out the snacks one day a month – putting them in the hands of 500 to 700 elementary-school children. The program provides two snacks a day, and Appleooz are replacing fresh apples for one of those snacks.
"This isn't a philanthropic effort, even though I decided to lower my prices to fit their budget," Wood said, explaining that he looks at the deep discount as a marketing expense.
Depending on feedback, he hopes to increase the amount of Appleooz BVSD will invest in.
"It is a very good organization," he said. "I told them I'm a one-man shop and working to scale my business capacity so we're looking at hopefully doing more than this in 2014."
In the meantime, St. Julien Hotel contacted Wood after an employee tasted Appleooz and saw a fit for the hotel's mini-bars, spa and gift shop. Negotiations are in the works.
Suggested retail prices for Appleooz bags are $4.99 for three ounces and $2.49 for 1.4 ounces.
To date, Wood has personally invested $50,000 in to the company. He's looking into a microloan program as well as crowdfunding for the next round needed to take the business further.
"I'm not making enough money to pay myself yet so I have no labor costs," he said. "Currently I pick up apples in Denver and bring in my own ingredients to store in the kitchen space I'm leasing."
The average number of apples used is now 250 a week. "When I double that volume, I'll be able to have them delivered to my facility rather than having to go pick them up."
Wood describes his goal as building this into a community business – using local apples as much as possible and hiring locally as well. He also plans to develop a program that involves school children in the process so they could use sales from Appleooz as a fundraising activity.
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