Doug Renfro Knows Great Entrepreneurs & Hot Sauce
Mrs. Renfro’s is an 81-year-old business that specializes in all kinds of sauces.
Great Entrepreneurs – Keeping it in the family
In the middle of the Great Depression, George and Arthurine Renfro started selling spices and vinegar out of their house in Fort Worth, Texas. The spices became maple syrup, which they sold in town fairs and Sunday markets. For a while, they mixed things up with chow chow, a Southern-style relish made with chopped bell peppers, green tomatoes, sweet onions, and cabbage. But the Renfro’s caught their big break when they started selling taco sauces in the 1970s. Mrs. Renfro’s is now the largest independent salsa brand in the United States.
Mrs. Renfro’s has been a family affair for over 8 decades. When Paw-paw and Maw-maw Renfro passed, their sons, Bill and Jack, took over the business. And when their sons and daughter got old enough to take over, Bill and Jack made the transition.
Innovation is the name of the game
The third generation Renfro kids were expected to get a bachelor’s degree in business and a little experience before coming back to the company. Doug was no different. He juggled part-time jobs while he worked on his finance degree. Immediately after graduation, he joined a large corporation that encouraged further learning. On top of his 70-hour weeks, he got certified as a Certified Management Accountant and got his MBA degree.
Doug was excellent at his corporate job. He had a natural knack for policy and procedure, but he had no love for the life at all. He was back at Mrs. Renfro’s within 7 years.
In the 29 years since, Doug has run Mrs. Renfro’s with unparalleled gusto. He spearheads product development and marketing. In fact, one of their best-selling products is their habañero sauce, which Doug dreamed up in a spur of the moment. To date, they offer over 30 different varieties of salsas, sauces, and dips. Their ghost pepper and Carolina reaper salsas have a cult following on Amazon.
Some great advice for great entrepreneurs
Mrs. Renfro’s is available in almost every grocery and supermarket across the United States, but it wasn’t always like this. Doug gives some great advice:
One, persistence and tenacity are key. Whether you’re trying to grow a home business or a billion-dollar company, you have to have the determination to insist on your dreams. Over the years, Doug has had to pitch his products a countless number of times over. He got rejected more often than he could count. But like other great entrepreneurs, he kept trying until he succeeded.
Two, never pass up on a networking opportunity. It might be more comfortable to stay home and watch Netflix, but no growth happens there. Networking puts you in touch with like-minded individuals and breadths of experience. The solution to a persistent problem may be a single connection away.
And three, think outside of the box. Doug’s early marketing tricks involved sending free cases of salsa to TV and movie sets. He figured that if he could get the crew to start buying Mrs. Renfro’s for their homes, it would be a win. Luckily, crews really loved Doug’s salsa. Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa has been seen in episodes of the Big Bang Theory and Pretty Little Liars.