By P. Kelly Smith
In the vanilla-and-chocolate-dominated ice cream world, it's nice to know one entrepreneur is having a little fun with the likes of mango, passion fruit and guava-strawberry. But it was more out of a sense of mission than fun that Douglas Stewart started Howler Products Inc. in 1994. The company, named after the Amazon's fruit-loving Howler monkeys, manufactures exotic sorbets and gourmet gelatos with ingredients and flavors taken from rare rain-forest fruits.
Is all this food talk making you hungry? Read "Upper Crust" to and find out how you can start your own sandwich shop franchise.
Stewart, president and CEO of the San Francisco-based company, began his journey in the Amazon jungle in 1989. Then a Stanford student, Stewart traveled to the Brazilian Amazon to research a thesis that ended up as a book on deforestation. He concluded that if farmers had a market for their rain-forest fruits, they might preserve the trees and plants that produced them. His convictions were so strong, he eventually left a job as a schoolteacher to start Howler Products. Six years later, with 100 flavors and sales between $1 million and $2 million, Stewart considers himself more of a "survivor" than a millionaire. "We've survived," he says, "and I think the formula for survival, whether you're 24 or 44, is you have to be persistent."