Client Story - Jack's Crackers
Client Name: Kevin Dremel
Business Name: Jack's Crackers
Location: Keene, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Vardhan Bajpai
It started just five years ago with a happy accident. With a passion for cooking, Kevin Dremel of Jack’s Crackers always found joy in playing with recipes to create something new and delicious. So, it was only natural that he would enthusiastically join a cooking contest being hosted by Monadnock Oil and Vinegar a little over five years ago.
He was given a set of ingredients with which to create a dish. Putting his creative hat on, Kevin took the hot pepper oil, pasta, and other ingredients to make a “bowl” out of something edible. What did he get? The red wine cracker!
While Kevin and his red wine cracker came in second place, the leftover crackers suspiciously went missing and the culprit was the contest judge who swiped some for themself. That’s when it clicked for Kevin and his wife that they might something here. And so…Jack’s Crackers was born.
Jack’s Crackers are made with fresh, local ingredients from the Keene, New Hampshire area, sourcing things as close to home as they can and focusing on freshness and flavor. With unique flavors like red wine, dill, firecracker, and lavender rosemary, to name a few (none are artificial), you’d be hard-pressed to find anything like it.
What’s also unique about Jack’s Crackers is its namesake and “leadership team.” Jack’s is named after the self-proclaimed leader of their beloved pet cat trio, Jack. As Kevin puts it, “We figured they run the house; they may as well run the business.”
At the start of Jack’s Crackers story, all Kevin had was an idea and a request from Monadnock Oil and Vinegar to create something for tastings, but no business experience. He knew he needed some guidance and brought in the NH SBDC from the get-go.
Taking a proactive approach, he contacted the NH SBDC for help to get things moving, sharing “I needed coaching from people who knew what they were doing.”
What Kevin found especially helpful was the guidance, support, and connections to resources he received from his business advisor at the time. She also helped him create a five-year plan for his business, which he can now proudly say he has achieved.
When COVID hit, Kevin once again got proactive. “COVID had sort of an inverted effect for us,” he says. With a small crew, they did not have to shut down, but to ensure the business’s success, he took the opportunity to diversify and signed up for several business-to-business (B2B) websites in an effort to get more wholesalers on board.
Jack’s Crackers makes it a point to not sell on Amazon and rather focuses on small, local stores and on their own website. Kevin shares, “Our model is to use other small businesses. It’s important for small businesses to support each other.”
Today, Jack’s Crackers are available to order online at jackscrackers.com and are now in over 200 stores across the country.
The SBDC has been with them every step of the way to provide guidance, support, training, and connections through business advising and resiliency training including help from those who specialize in the food industry.
Kevin is currently working with NH SBDC business advisor Vardhan Bajpai, who is assisting him with the next steps. For the first time, the five-year-old business is looking for financing and investors.
The brand now has more orders than they have time to produce. They currently rent from a local soup kitchen, which they have very limited access to. Vardhan is working with Kevin to start the process of owning their own kitchen, helping them seek funding and investments, along with educating them on the rules and regulations for all of it.
“Working with the SBDC has been a touchstone,” states Kevin. “The connections I’ve made between the advisors and the resiliency training have been fantastic. And, to find businesses connecting to and supporting each other is pretty cool.”
So, what’s next for Jack’s Crackers? They are focused on developing their next five-year plan, expanding their reach and output, and creating jobs for those who want experience and/or to get back into the workforce, especially those with disabilities who have been out of the workforce. Kevin comments, “This is a job to help people learn the soft skills that will help get them to something else.”
Reflecting on his time with SBDC, Kevin concluded, “New Hampshire seems to be having a surge for local products and I see SBDC [advisors] ....have the skills and connections you need to start a business and understand what’s really involved. They are the boots on the ground support you need to figure it out and how to go forward.”
This client story is part of NH SBDC's ongoing collection of COVID Creativity stories about businesses surviving and thriving through COVID-19.