As entrepreneurs ourselves, we'd say that relentless optimism and willingness to plow through the toughest obstacles are enviable character traits. Tom displays the kind of stamina that many of us have to beg, borrow or steal to get us through our own projects. And we think his advice on the future of the condiment industry will be music to some people's ears.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
I awakened to devoting my passions and hard work into the food industry later in my life. After years of eating all types of food, enjoying various flavors and experimenting in my cooking adventures, I realized what everyone's taste buds craved. This coincided with a change in my dietary and eating habits that had come with age. Unlike when I was younger and could just eat everything, I needed to watch and understand what I put into my body. As I began to eat healthier, I also realized I could jazz up any good meal with the right condiments. So here I am today with my all natural condiment line!
How did you get your current good food job?
While creating and sourcing my all-natural patented soap, I visited and consulted with several New York-based farms. Throughout my all-natural journey of configuring ingredients, I discovered some tastes and smells that appealed to my love for food. From there, it was a natural transition to creating this tasteful and elegant condiment line. This creation is a proud product of New York State.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
My background is in marketing and advertising and those attributes assisted me with being creative on all fronts. From the actual flavor creations to the packaging, my marketing skill set has helped me create something I am very proud of.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
The process from concept to completed product. Everything becomes an obstacle when you are starting from scratch. I believe the thought of calling it quits comes into play at least once a day when you are starting something from scratch and on a tight budget. However, those thoughts for me never lasted more than a few seconds - with my background and family upbringing quitting is NEVER an option. So carrying on is my mantra (a man charging uphill with a large object on his back - that's me!)
Name one positive thing that a former employer taught you that you continue to appreciate?
I have a story of fellow employees motivating me because of their belief that I could motivate them. After working at a Fortune 500 communication company for several years, a managerial position became available. While I was contemplating whether to apply or not, my colleagues had come together and nominated me for the position without me knowing. I was called into the vice president's office and was told about the nomination. I was shocked and honored that my peers thought of me as a leader. After confronting them and thanking them, I realized the gift I was given to manage business and more importantly manage people. That type of positive reinforcement helped me understand another aspect of my skill set.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
I believe that the specialty food and condiment space is approaching a tipping point. After I started my condiment line, I did some research and realized that this space is very reminiscent of the craft beer industry ten years ago. Big brands are no longer controlling these segments. Small artisan or craft businesses are disrupting these industries and making everyone rethink this space.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
A great brand that brings health and smiles to all customers.