Tag Archive: Top Secret Gourmets


I recently became Social Media Editor of Top Secret Gourmets, one of the most decorated Spice and Rub companies in Pennsylvania. Owners Larry Sayre and Cory Lauer were kind enough to do an interview for my blog.  Top Secret Gourmets promised to do a recipe contest when they reached 100 Likes on Facebook and have recently reached that goal.

What are the rules for the contest and what prizes will be awarded?

The contest is simple, send a recipe using any of the Top Secret Gourmet products in your cooking.  We will cook the recipes and determine which ones we like best.  To enter, simply post the recipe to our wall at http://www.facebook.com/TopSecretGourmets and when we receive 20 recipes, we will declare a winner.  1st place will receive 3 bottles of choice, 2nd place will receive 2 bottles and 3rd place will receive 1 bottle.  The only stipulations are that each person may only submit one recipe and you must Like our Facebook page.

You have said about the potential of online ordering at topsecretgourmets.com. How close is this to happening? What issues have arisen during this process?

We got the informational part of the site up about a year ago. We have the storefront almost finished with just a few odds & ends left. As long as there are no last-minute glitches we hope to have it running by the beginning of March.  There are always technical issues that always come up that are out of our hands. We also have to take into account that we must have enough inventory in place to get started. It’s a good problem to have, but we are constantly updating our awards and now have new product to add as well.

TSGBack

Your newest spice Pirate’s Gold  has been out in large bottles for a short time. When will the artwork be done? When will small bottles be available?

Pirate’s Gold is a mustard based spice that we are very excited about adding to our line of award-winning spices.  A lot of the artwork will be done in a few more weeks. Then, there is the process of getting the new artwork  labels designed for the first time. That takes an additional 3 to 4 weeks. We are hoping to have Pirates Gold out in small bottles by the middle of April. We may also have a Pirate’s Gold Mustard in the works down the line.

You have recently partnered with FlavorPALooza (http://www.facebook.com/FlavorPALooza), a small business focusing on selling other small batch spices and condiments. How did this come about? What are the advantages of having him sell your spices?

4) Our partnership with FlavorPALooza is one that came about out of necessity.  While we have an excellent client base currently, Top Secret Gourmets does not have the resources to hire a salesman.  By working with FlavorPALooza, we have someone knowledgeable and respected in the field selling our products where we can’t be. It has the opportunity to  get our product into a new variety of customers’ hands.

What does the future of Top Secret Gourmets hold beyond what we have discussed? What can your fans be looking forward to?

5) The future is simple. We want to concentrate on what we do great, high quality products with a twist. We don’t cut corners and it shows in the end results. You get what you pay for. We want to concentrate on getting our products out to more people, both on the wholesale & retail levels. We don’t want to get away from what has made our name or our products special. We believe all our products are unique in that they don’t taste similar, yet they are similar in that they all hit the taste buds from the different angles. We don’t want to stray away too far from what we do because that’s when you lose focus. We do plan on eventually venturing back into our Secret Sugars and may also try our hand at BBQ Sauces, Mustards, Hot Sauces, & Marinades.  The only way we go this route is if we can do it exactly like our spices, high quality, unique, with a twist.

Top Secret Gourmets has won a tremendous amount of awards, with all 9 of the spices winning at least one award and many of them winning multiple awards.  For more information about these awards:  http://topsecretgourmets.com/awards

I would like to personally thank Larry and Cory for their time regarding this interview.  These two are some of the most creative people in their industry and look to be destined for stardom.  Check out some of the links and give their spices a try!

Official Page:  http://topsecretgourmets.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TopSecretGourmets

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/TSGourmets

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@kollisionmedia.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

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2013: What’s Coming Up

It has been a few weeks since I posted a new piece, but this is not for lack of trying.  I have had a series of events happen since my last post of 2012:

– My job at Solutions for Advertising is no more.  The owner of the company decided that he wants to go in a different direction and hence decided to make 2012 his last year in business.  But fear not,

– I was hired as Social Media Manager for KollisionMedia.  My new responsibilities (above and beyond handling my client base) will be to do a blog piece every 4 to 6 weeks at http://kollisionmediablog.com.  These interviews will revolve around our clients and what they have going on at their respective companies.

– I have scheduled interviews for blog pieces with the following people:

Lena Fortini, Special Events Coordinator with Appalachian Brewing Company

Cory Lauer, Owner, Top Secret Gourmets

Dan Trimble, Owner, FlavorPALooza

– I have also considered the notion of office space for my blossoming business venture with http://startuphbg.com/.  While working from home seems to be a great idea at first, it comes with a variety of drawbacks.  I can never truly concentrate on tasks at hand because there are always dishes that need washed, laundry that needs done, and general things around the house.  There is also that problem called DVR.  It certainly takes a highly motivated and disciplined person to be able to work from home and not succumb to distractions.

This all being said, having a shared workspace would allow me to hire someone to help grow my business.  The biggest problem that I currently have is time.  I know that my business venture can and will be successful, but I need the time to not only do the work that I promise my clients, but to market myself to new clients as well.  I feel in 2013 all things will fall into place and allow me to finally be on the path to stardom!

On a personal note, my old email address pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com is still active, but I can also be reached at pmiller@kollisionmedia.com as well.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@kollisionmedia.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

In part two of the Small Business Saturday blog, I will be discussing my interviews with owners of two small businesses in the Harrisburg area, Bart Kaminski of Kollision Media and Tim Tatge of Provider Select.  The interviews that I conducted with these two gentlemen really provided insight into the small business landscape.

Bart Kaminski (@KollisionMedia) of Kollision Media has been a freelance employee of Solutions for Advertising for more than 3 years now.  When we aren’t keeping him busy doing design for our website, media kit, or advertising ads, he has built himself quite a small business.  He is a skilled graphic designer and makes awesome web sites for his clients.  I began discussing with him the advantages of operating a small business.  Bart thought that he had an advantage over his corporate competition because he doesn’t have the overhead of having to maintain an office with a staff.  He has the ability to work within a set budget because of this reason.  When I asked Bart who his corporate competition was he mentioned JPL Productions (although I’m sure there are many more).  While the quality of his work is on par with his corporate competition, he has the advantage of catering explicitly to his clients’ needs.  To quote Bart:  “People prefer a casual atmosphere for meetings instead of a board room with “suits”.   Small business needs this personal touch.   The ability of communicating with your client and making them feel comfortable allows you to connect with them on a different level without the corporate persona.”

I then asked Bart about the future of Kollision Media.  He began describing his ideas for his social media corner on his website.  In the very near future, Bart is going to include a section of his website that can promote his clients in a different way than before.  He envisions an open forum that allow people to post reviews and allow the client to post new products, services, or specials all in one place on his website.  He is also including in his fees banner ads on his site and direct links to clients Facebook, Twitter, and website.  I encourage you to check out Kollision Media, and keep him in mind for any graphic design needs.  I truly want to thank Mr. Kaminski for his time and wish Kollision Media great success.

Website:  http://www.kollisionmedia.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kollisionmedia

To conclude my interviews regarding Small Business Saturday, I spoke with the owner of Provider Select, Tim Tatge.  Tim has been a longtime friend of mine, and recently won a grant from the state of Pennsylvania through Ben Franklin Technologies.  The interview I conducted with Tim did not specially speak about his small business versus corporate competition, but how you go about starting a small business if you have a great idea.  I don’t want to go into great detail about Provider Select, as it is truly in its infancy, but Tim did provide amazing insight to a program available in Pennsylvania for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business.

Tim had a successful career as a drug representative for Pfizer, one of the largest drug manufacturers worldwide.  After electing early retirement, Tim found his days with little meaning.  He knew he was still able to work and must do so to save his sanity.  He began doing research and found a company called Ben Franklin Technologies (http://benfranklin.org/what-is-bftp/who-we-work-with/entrepreneurs).  BFT is a company that is giving grants from the state of Pennsylvania to help promote the creation of small business in the state.  I was surprised to hear that our state actually had this sort of thing.  I’m proud that Pennsylvania understands the importance of small business and how our state can benefit from the creation of it.

The process, however, is not very easy to complete.  According to Tim, here was the timeline for his business to go from idea to winning the grant:

Step 1:  Contact Ben Franklin Technologies and pitch the business.

Step 2:  Being chosen to enter the program (not everyone is chosen).

Step 3:  Begin an eight-week training session at TeleCelerator in Carlisle.

Step 4:  Each week you have classes to prepare you for your final pitch.

Step 5:  Develop and present your final elevator pitch for the panel.

Step 6:  Be chosen to receive grant money.  In the case of Mr. Tatge’s group, there was a total of $10,000 awarded, $8,000 to Mr. Tatge and $2,000 for the runner-up.  Tim mentioned that over the course of these classes, the full $10,000 is rarely awarded in its entirety.  Tim was extremely lucky and his idea should be considered as one of the best.

At this point, this is where Tim finds himself today, between Steps 6 and 7.  The one thing about winning this competition is that you are not simply awarded a check and sent on your way, you have an advisor that controls the money and how it is spent.  It is now Tim’s job to put this plan into motion, and the wheels are already turning.  Mr. Tatge looks to the new year for getting the business up and running,  “I think that January, February, and March will be the most important months for this business.  I have so much to do and so little time if this idea is going to get off the ground.”

So if you have an idea for a small business, Ben Franklin Technologies is a great way to start making your idea a reality.  Tim should truly be commended for his perseverance and dedication in winning this grant.  Hopefully, in the coming months Provider Select will take off and be another success story for small business.  Stay tuned.

It has truly been a wonderful opportunity to speak with Cory Lauer, Bart Kaminski, Pete Anderson, and Tim Tatge on behalf of this blog and Solutions for Advertising.  While each of the businesses are quite different, it certainly is refreshing to know that in this ever corporate world, small business is still at the paramount of our thoughts.  I would really like some comments about the concept of shopping small and would love you to share any stories about your holiday shopping regarding this.

For my next blog, I am thinking about doing something about QR Codes and their prevalence in new media.  Due to the holidays, check out our Facebook page for announcements about when this blog will be posted.  I will promise my loyal readers that I will have a new blog up prior to Christmas, but it will be my last until the new year.

Paul Miller

http://www.facebook.com/solutionsforadvertising

Twitter: @solutionsforadv

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Small Business Saturday is a very needed concept in today’s landscape.  I have had a very unique experience working with Solutions for Advertising over the past five years; to see how and why we as a small business can thrive in our current financial landscape is quite fascinating.  To be able to offer a better value and a more personal involvement with companies and events is what sets Solutions for Advertising above our corporate competition.  For the purpose of this blog I interviewed owners of three small businesses based  in the Harrisburg metro area:  Tim Tatge of  Provider Select, Bart Kaminski of Kollision Media, and Cory Lauer of Top Secret Gourmets.  I asked them similar questions; why do you think that your small business is above and beyond corporate competition?  What strategies do you use to obtain clients?  I’d like to share some of the unique insight I received from these interviews, as well as discuss the event itself.

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express as an initiative to promote small business in the holiday shopping season.  The event is celebrated the day after Black Friday and prior to Cyber Monday.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday often cater to corporate-owned businesses like big box and online retailers.  The concept of SBS centers around spending your money locally and keeping it in the community.  While the event is over, American Express proclaimed it a great success on their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday).  It does bring up an interesting concept:  Why not make a plan to spend more of your money locally?  Instead of just doing it for one day a year, making it a habit in our present and future landscape to shop small helps keep money in the community.  Small business is the backbone of our nation and should be embraced.

My first interview was with Cory Lauer (@tarheelch) of Top Secret Gourmets.  TSG is a spice company based out of Harrisburg that has won over 40 awards nationally from four different competitions, including 20 awards from the National Barbeque Association and 15 Scovie Awards.  When interviewing Cory, he expressed how amazing Top Secret Gourmet’s rise was.  Each person I spoke with I asked the same question:  What sets you apart from your corporate competition?  In Cory’s case, he thought that the sheer quality of ingredients was the most important thing.  He thought that the corporate competition (mainly from McCormick) didn’t have the quality due to sacrificing quality for cost.   He also explained how McCormick’s need for advertising campaigns directly impacts its final product.

Top Secret Gourmets uses the midstate area to do much of their business and truly are a small operation.  Knowing that a quality product is still able to succeed because of their business savvy is a refreshing feeling to have.  Top Secret Gourmets is one of the better small businesses on social media as well.  They are having a recipe contest once they get to 100 Likes on Facebook or 50 followers on Twitter, and I think I have the recipe to win.   Let’s try to get them there:  Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Top-Secret-Gourmets/192077154166353?ref=ts) and Twitter @TSGourmets.

Top Secret Gourmets has 8 different rubs and spices, including their most popular (winning 13 different awards) X-Hot Habanero and Lime and my personal favorite KC Hickory Rub.  Cory also was happy to announce a new spice rub called Caribbean Pirates Gold.  While it was still in production and didn’t want to let too much get out before it was ready, he did tell me that it was a mustard based rub, the first time TSG has attempted this.  Cory also said that on their website (http://topsecretgourmets.com/) they will have online ordering within the next month, a step that has been in the works for quite some time.  Cory views this as the next big step in the business as his opportunities to expand reach great possibilities and I wish Cory and Top Secret Gourmets the best of luck.

I did speak with the Owner of Solutions for Advertising Pete Anderson in regards to the trend of giving small business a chance and he had this to say:

“Small business Saturday is and should be important to anyone who wants to retain the mom and pop stores that used to line the main street of most small towns.  You constantly hear politicians referring to small business as the ‘engine’ that drives the economy.  This makes it even more important to support local merchants when possible because the odds are that you have more family and friends working for these companies than you would imagine.  Small businesses also tend to be more eager and responsive to customer needs and requests, and support other local businesses with their b2b purchasing.  Small business Saturday is something that any conscientious consumer who is concerned about the state of their local businesses should support. “

I truly appreciate Mr. Anderson’s comments because Solutions for Advertising is a successful small business in the Harrisburg area, and supports many great causes there including:  Bethesda Mission, The Autism Society of Greater Harrisburg, and Contact Helpline.  Giving small business a chance can greatly impact the future of the Harrisburg area and hopefully the nation at large.

Part 2 of this blog will discuss what you can do if you have an idea for a new small business and views from other small businesses in the Harrisburg area.  This will be posted Friday, December 9.

Paul Miller

http://www.facebook.com/solutionsforadvertising

Twitter: @solutionsforadv

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495