Jon and Dan Levy are definitely not nuts. Sure, they're passionate about nuts, but these no-nonsense guys don't let passion blind them from making good financial decisions. Dan, the founder of Nuts Are Good!, and his brother, Jon, who joined the company soon after it launched, started selling fresh-roasted cinnamon-flavored almonds from a mall kiosk in 1988. Business boomed, and that early success catapulted the company into volume distribution.
Roasting almonds was Jon and Dan's life--until the price of raw almonds more than doubled. "Prices started climbing in 2005 and they didn't stop until almost 2007," says Dan. "It looked like our sales volume was going to come to a screeching halt." As prices rose, Jon, 41, and Dan, 43, decided to explore more price-competitive snack items, like flavored peanuts and granola. "Granola--even with organic oats--is a lot cheaper than nuts," says Dan. "And with snack mixes, even if one ingredient goes up [in price], it doesn't shatter your profit margin."Their new product line has reignited their passion for roasted snack products, and it fired up more than $3 million in sales of spicy buffalo peanuts, salty tamari cashews and crunchy organic granolas last year. "Almonds were always the biggest," says Jon. "But you start spinning off and seeing where the avenues to sell all these other products are."