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Fast Growth for Healthy Snacks

As applications for the 2012 Inc. 500|5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, click here). One that caught our eye was Snikiddy, headquartered in Boulder, Colo.

After nearly 10 years working in financial institutional sales, Mary Schulman decided she wanted to give back. She also wanted her family to have healthy snacks but didn’t see many options that met her healthy and tasty criteria. So in late 2006, Schulman and her mother founded Snikiddy.

Schulman grew up in a healthy household, courtesy of her mother’s particular shopping style. “We had this crazy circle bread in our lunch that was made with only sprouted grains and things of that nature,” Schulman says. Her mother’s healthy eating habits were passed down to her by her own mother, Schulman’s grandma, one notorious for packing lunch boxes filled with local produce and simple foods.

So notorious, in fact, that her children became known as “the snikiddy kids.” In actuality they were “persnickety eaters,” according to a teacher. But the kids used their own version of the word, snikiddy, and it stuck. They donned the nickname with pride.

The health-conscious snack food company started off with cheese puffs and cookies. But despite the deliciousness of their sweet treats, the cookie market wasn’t showing the growth Schulman wanted, so the product was cut. “It was a decent business under probably a lot of standards,” Schulman says, “but we weren’t seeing the tremendous growth we were seeing from the salty snack arena, and we really wanted to be a growth company.” From that point on Snikiddy honed in on the salty snack category.

A few years and two new products later, Snikiddy is thriving. The company added baked fries and vegetable chips to its salty arena, in several creative flavors, and brought in just over $9 million in revenue for 2011. The products are available in over 5,000 stores nationwide such as Whole Foods and other natural and conventional food stores, as well as online and at Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us. The company’s three-year growth rate is 385 percent.

The salty snacks suit anyone with a healthy craving, but are marketed toward and often purchased by families. All of the products Snikiddy provides are all natural, gluten-free, and contain no preservatives or corn syrup. The veggie chips, Eat Your Vegetables, contain a whole serving of vegetables in every ounce, a mixture of sweet potatoes, carrots, and navy beans. All of the products are vegetarian and some are vegan.

Schulman started Snikiddy in Bethesda, Md., and with the hire of a CEO in Boulder, Colo. the latter location became the main office. Snikiddy has 11 employees with one being part-time. Schulman’s mother is no longer involved in the business, but her healthy influence will carry on for generations through Snikiddy’s good for you snacks.

According to Schulman the business will always be working on research and development. “Even if you have a great product you can’t just sit back and say ‘good enough,’” she says. “We’re constantly looking to make sure that we’re delivering the best possible products we can.”

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