Feeling His Oats
Vital Stats: Lynn Rogers, 51, and his wife, Bonnie, 39
Company: Started in 1995, the oatmeal and oatmeal snacks company donates a portion of its profits to the athletic department at California State University, Fullerton.
2001 Sales: $2.3 million
"We didn't create this marketing strategy; it was my life."
Natural Talent: "I never intended to start a business. On Christmas Eve, we had a nice breakfast, complete with pancakes, muffins and homemade oatmeal. As [my guests] commented on how good the oatmeal tasted, a friend said I could start a business. I immediately thought of helping my team."
Making the Cut: "My friend took the oatmeal to the Natural Foods Trade show. Interested, the VP of Roman Meal invited me to their headquarters. I met with marketing, transportation and other people. They took a vote and we passed narrowly. Roman Meal [eventually] became our manufacturer. They also just invested a significant amount of money in our company."
A Coach's Philosophy: "Two years ago, I retired. I had a chance to participate in young people growing, but by contributing to the university, I didn't walk away from that part of my life. We feel that we've been given this [business] to do something good."
Community Rally: "All our local retailers have helped us with the cost of entry. They've also given us ads and been patient as I learn this business. We knew we would lose money at the start, but we needed to support the team."
- Coach's Oats
(714) 529-5975, www.coachsoats.com.