Nuts 'N More hits targets, expands to meet 'crazy' demand

Nuts 'N More hits targets, expands to meet 'crazy' demand

PAWTUCKET - Three local entrepreneurs say they are making their "Shark Tank" investors very happy, selling $1.2 million worth of their Nuts 'N More products since March and besting every goal set for them.

Dennis Iannotti, the North Providence partner with the trademark orange headband, told The Breeze the demand for Nuts 'N More and its fortified nut butters has grown so much that he, Peter Ferreira of East Providence, and Neil Cameron of Lincoln, are having trouble keeping up with the orders coming into their Pawtucket headquarters at 560 Mineral Spring Ave.

"I've never seen such madness like this," said Iannotti. "It's been nonstop."

The three founders are in the process of opening a new 10,000-square foot manufacturing facility on Almeida Street in East Providence, a space that will give them the infrastructure they need to more than quadruple sales in year two. A new hydraulic filling machine will allow employees to fill 76 jars of nut butters a minute.

"We expect to do $5 to $6 million next year," said Iannotti, shaking his head. "It's just crazy."

Orders are coming in from all over the world, said Iannotti, from such places as Italy, Brazil and Mexico, intensifying the need to add at least three new full-time employees to run operations. The owners have signed on with big name distributors like Lone Star and store chains like Whole Foods, fueling growth they say has been hard to keep up with.

"Even what we take on is more than we can handle," said Iannotti. "The demand is way higher than production. We've had a lot of very upset people."

The Breeze reported in March that Iannotti, Ferreira and Cameron had seen business take off after the March 1 airing of their appearance on ABC's "Shark Tank."

"Sharks" Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team, and Robert Herjavec, a millionaire in the technology industry, liked what they saw so much that they agreed on the show to give the trio $75,000 up front and another $175,000 to fund future purchase orders, in exchange for a 35 percent stake in the company.

Nuts 'N More has been so successful, said Iannotti, that it is already performing among Cuban's top "Shark Tank" businesses.

Two of the Nuts 'N More team, Iannotti and Cameron, have kept their day jobs and still do not take a paycheck from the company, instead putting every dollar they can back into it. Like Ferreira, said Iannotti, he expects to quit his own job by next year to put all of his energy into the brand. These three may not be millionaires yet, said Iannotti, but there's no reason they shouldn't be by the second half of 2014.

Though the manufacturing part of the operation is moving out of Pawtucket, Nuts 'N More will maintain a strong presence at the Lorraine Mills where the company got its start, said Iannotti. The current storefront on the left side of the building will be expanded and a caf?© where people can enjoy an ever-expanding line of Nuts 'N More products in a comfortable atmosphere will be built alongside. Iannotti said he and his business partners envision a spot where the hundreds of workers in this mill building and surrounding businesses can come enjoy a Nuts 'N More cookie or bread, products that are now being fine-tuned.

When the production operations move out of the Lorraine Mills location to East Providence sometime in the coming weeks, said Iannotti, the storefront will be staffed with a full-time employee who will keep it open every day.

Iannotti told The Breeze he and his friends haven't regretted for one minute the decision to go on "Shark Tank" or to give Cuban and Herjavec a part of their company in exchange for the capital. Though "Sharks" expect the entrepreneurs they invest in to work very hard on becoming successful, they also have the connections and the name recognition to make the journey easier.

"That show has changed everything for us," he said. "They tell you that you can become millionaires, that all you have to do is make it happen. If it's not happening then it's your fault."

"Shark Tank" and its panel of millionaire and billionaire investors hear pitches from entrepreneurs about why they should invest in their companies, giving them the extra benefits of massive exposure and business connections along the way. For more on the show, visit www.abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank .

Two more planned TV features will help make the Nuts 'N More name even more recognizable. On Oct. 14, film crews will return to Rhode Island to chronicle the success of the Nuts 'n More owners. Also, in the next six months, they'll appear on QVC, a television network that specializes in home shopping.

Two weekends ago they appeared with Herjavec at the Olympia, one of the largest fitness and performance expos in the world. They're planning numerous other appearances at local and regional events in the coming weeks, including the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston Oct. 19-20.

The Nuts 'N More entrepreneurs continue to expand their list of offerings, adding the popular pumpkin spice peanut butter, chocolate coconut almond butter, and cinnamon raisin almond butter. Also planned for early next year are toffee and espresso nut butters.

What started out as a business marketed largely to fitness buffs who love the nut butters fortified with whey protein and flaxseed, Nuts 'N More has gained a broader customer base of people who are looking for healthy food with a great taste. Nuts 'N More has expanded from a "niche" company to a "more diverse" one for people who "just want to live a healthy lifestyle," said Iannotti.

To place an order for Nuts 'N More products, or to watch the "Shark Tank" episode that got everything started for the three local entrepreneurs, visit www.nuts-n-more.com .