Family run boutique manufacturer Shandiz Natural Foods operates with a three-part vision. The company strives to produce quality natural products, ensure customer satisfaction, and nurture a respectful workplace environment. Producing a quality ingredient isn’t difficult for Shandiz, as the majority of its products are certified organic. The company primarily manufactures snack bars, including fruit and nut bars, cereal bars, rice crispy bars, and nougat confections. A key feature of all Shandiz products is that they’re minimally processed.
“The products and the ingredients maintain their integrity, are visually appealing, and taste great,” said Nima Fotovat, general manager and second-generation owner of Shandiz. “That’s our competitive advantage in the bar market: using high quality, premium ingredients, and letting the taste of the ingredients come through naturally.”
Shandiz’s business structure operates in four categories. As a private label manufacturer, the company produces for chains across Canada and the US that it either has in its library of products or that it develops in its R&D lab and then brings to market for companies.
The company is expanding its customer base beyond Canada and the US and into Europe. Fotovat said the expansion is a natural fit because people everywhere are looking for healthier ways to eat on the go. “People have less time to sit in a café and have a cappuccino and a croissant,” he said. “More and more are having a coffee and a snack on the go.”
The biggest part of Shandiz’s service complement is co-packing or contract manufacturing. “Some brand owners want to expand their offerings into bars, and specifically organic bars,” Fotovat said. “That’s where we do most of our business.”
Shandiz also does custom packaging, an easy fit for a product category that can be bulked together in many formats. The company can do multi packs and variety packs ranging from boxes sized for clubs to mini bars and bite-sized products.
Tied into being a full-service private label and contract manufacturer are Shandiz’s consulting capabilities. The company’s inhouse food scientists and R&D laboratory gives it a complete understanding of industry regulations, enhancing its ability to develop products around nutritional profiles and target markets.
“We offer our consultation services as part of the product development stage of launching a product,” said Fotovat. “Product innovation is a major piece of the value-add we bring to our business partners, and it’s also one of the biggest drivers of our growth.”
Spirit of innovation
Shandiz was one of the first Canadian manufacturing facilities to be certified as organic, but it wasn’t the last way in which the company illustrated its spirit of innovation. With new products, the company adheres to the standards it set in developing healthy and organic items, but rather than starting from scratch, it innovates on what people are already familiar with.
“We innovated the rice crispy treat that is certified organic and friendly to kids,” said Fotovat. “We take what’s out there that people enjoy and indulge in and create a healthy, organic version that also tastes good.”
Shandiz also innovates on the environmental front. As an Ontario-based company, Shandiz has the ability to buy electricity from green sources such as low-impact hydro and windmills. When Fotovat realized how easy it would be to transition the company to 100% renewables, he didn’t waste any time.
“One-hundred percent of the electricity we use in our offices and in our production facilities and every product that comes off the line is produced using low-impact, zero-emission electricity,” said Fotovat. In addition, Shandiz’s waste management program recycles everything from crumbs to cardboard and plastic.
“Where we can and where the technology is available, we use recycled products for our packaging as well,” Fotovat said. “We try to reduce our environmental impact on all fronts.”
With an eye toward continuous improvement, Shandiz partnered with Grant Thornton for a 16-week workshop focused on improving the quality of productivity and the quality of the lives of the company’s employees. The project just completed in late October, and Fotovat said there are now control mechanisms in place that are checked on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
The result of the partnership was an increase in productivity. “There’s less chaos, more order and structure around addressing problems, and a clear cut way to track the issue to the source rather than having to guess the root of the problem,” said Fotovat.
Family owned advantage
This November, Shandiz opened a new production facility, which is set to begin operations in the first quarter of 2010. The new facility will enable the company to expand its capabilities in coating and drizzling, as well as building up its product portfolio and expanding into new types of snacks. It will also give the company an opportunity to implement the operational standards it developed during the 16-week workshop.
The new facility is just another example of how, as a family owned business, Shandiz strives to go above and beyond to ensure things are done right and issues are dealt with. “We deal with issues right away and make sure our customers are happy,” said Fotovat.
“When our customers and suppliers see the level of dedication and passion we have around getting things done the right way, it strengthens the bond and our business relationship,” he continued. Fotovat’s two sisters and his father still work for the company, as does the partner his father started Shandiz with.
With owners at work every day and available to answer questions, Shandiz’s reputation for quality and for making decisions quickly is continuing to spread as the company expands out of North America. “By maintaining a standard of going the extra mile for the customer, we provide a connection to the root of our business to our customers, and that’s what sets us apart,” Fotovat concluded.