Jackson Township Man Sells “Mustard Man” Products Across Ohio

Tim Campbell is driving around town in a mustard-colored pickup truck.

By wearing a mustard-colored shirt.

He is, after all, “Mustard man. “

The Jackson Township businessman, 62, is the brainchild of “The Mustard Man,” a company that sells a line of specialty mustards all based on the ingredients listed on an old card in the recipe box. of his late mother. Campbell expanded the operation from manually filling bottles to distributing his product to stores in Ohio and eight other states.

And the man who had no experience in the food industry when he launched the company in 2012 intends to continue to grow the Stark County-based business using the same colored Honda Odyssey. mustard which he covered for nearly 400,000 miles.

“All I am is a guy with a recipe, but the point is, and this is what sets me apart, not having a cooking background, I think that was a blessing because I ‘I was just going to those stores and telling them about my mustard, “Campbell said.

“I didn’t know any grocers or distributors or food brokers. So I just went and said, ‘Hello’. And people were totally amazed at how far I had come without a cooking experience.

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Mustard man cartoon is on every bottle

Campbell’s smiling caricature is etched on every bottle of his mustard storage store shelves or deli counters.

And like the company itself, which he never planned in marketing meetings or researching investors, the rendering was not the result of a focus group or an ad agency. The image was sketched by a portrait painter at a company seminar more than a decade before “The Mustard Man” was even a concept.

Campbell began by labeling and packaging his mustard one bottle at a time in a rented kitchen by the hour before demand for produce quickly ran out of space. Now he contracts with an Ohio facility for blending, bottling, and packaging, while using distributors in Warren, Michigan and Walnut Creek, Ohio.

And these days, it’s not uncommon for him to be recognized at gas stations while traveling across the state for in-store demonstrations – identified by his yellow “Mustard Man” shirt, the logo on the van and its cup on the bottles.

When that happens, Campbell becomes the “mustard man,” enthusiastically promoting his product while handing out a recipe book. He was even asked to sign bottles or booklets.

Available locally at Fishers Foods, Buehler’s and Acme Fresh Market

Campbell’s mustards are now sold at Fishers Foods, Buehler’s and Acme Fresh Market, as well as more than 100 stores across Ohio, from small towns like Hartville and Fredericksburg to metropolitan areas like Columbus and Cleveland.

They are also sold in Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as online at www.themustardman.net.

What inspired him to launch “The Mustard Man?”

A graduate of Akron University in the early 1980s with a business degree, Campbell worked in sales before being inspired to start his mustard business following a pre-game party at ‘an Ohio State University football game.

For years, mustard was a family favorite served at holiday gatherings, with kids and adults dipping bite-sized pieces of sausage into the condiment. Hookers, including those at Akron University football games, loved mustard with snacks and vegetables.

“I’ve always been like this my whole life,” Campbell said. “People have all these ideas, and I’m not the type to say, ‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda.’

“And for me, I totally admire anyone who tries to become independent for themselves because it takes courage – you better have the passion for what you want to try to do, (and) that’s why a lot of these businesses die on the vine. “

Campbell said his business wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support of his wife Annette.

He recalls experimenting with batches of mustard at home around 6 a.m., while his wife served as a taste tester moments after brushing her teeth. The self-made businessman laughed cheerfully at the memory he frequently recalls in short and long conversations.

“Anyone who starts their own independent business can’t do it without the support of their other half, because it’s a challenge,” said Campbell, who previously worked as a sales representative in the Cleveland office of the National Association for the Self. -Employed. , which provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with resources and tools to help them run their businesses successfully.

Mustard flavors include chipotle, maple, peppery, sweet and equine

Campbell’s Mustard contains a handful of ingredients listed on the bottle. However, he likes to joke that “it’s a deep and dark family secret.”

Sold at $ 3.99 a bottle, the flavors are chipotle, maple, peppery, sweet and equine.

Besides the help he receives with manufacturing, packaging and shipping, “The Mustard Man” is largely a one-person operation, although his brother, Dave Campbell, helps with the recipe book. , thank you cards and labels, while Scott Wachtel takes care of social media. media.

Campbell declined to share sales figures or bottles sold per year.

And he politely explained that while he knows the national brands in the mustard aisle of grocery stores, he doesn’t see them as competition.

Instead, he focuses on his own mustard, a condiment versatile enough to coat hot dogs or bratwurst and incorporate it into a plethora of recipes including pork tenderloin, salmon, gravy. ribs, seared chicken cutlets, potato salad, pork chops, chili, meatloaf, ribs, stuffed eggs and asparagus.

Chipotle mustard exhibits slow heat; Horsey is mild with a horseradish flavor and is ideal for corned beef, roast beef or prime rib; sweetness is soft and creamy and goes well with fries, crackers and cold cuts; Peppered offers a hit of black pepper and pairs with grilled steak, burgers, hard-boiled eggs, and other items; maple is perfect for breakfast sausages, ham and cookies, says Campbell in his recipe book.

“It’s honest to God’s truth, and it sounds silly,” he said. “I don’t look at anyone … like a competitor; is French’s bigger than me … is Stadium taller than me? Yes … (but) to taste is to believe. you like my mustard or you don’t like it like my mustard and that’s it.

“I don’t look at anyone like that because my taste and aroma is unique in and of itself.”

Toledo-based Center for Innovative Food Technology helps launch activities

Campbell credited the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo with being instrumental in launching his business.

A subsidiary of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, the Toledo program is designed to help small and medium-sized Ohio manufacturers while developing and delivering solutions for the food processing, agribusiness, and manufacturing industries. agriculture.

Paula Ray, director of operations for the Northwestern Ohio Co-operative Kitchen at the Center for Innovative Food Technology, helped Campbell turn her idea into a viable retail product.

Campbell learned to use kitchen equipment and learn about food regulations; he also took courses in marketing and distribution.

“He’s a go-getter,” said Ray. “I see him in his posts (Facebook), and he’s a really fantastic person. I can see the people buying his product and all of them have a big smile on their faces.

“Sometimes I wonder if he even has a lot of downtime,” she said. “He has the passion and the drive that made him successful.”

Passion for his product

Molly Romig, director of membership at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Campbell had found her calling.

“He just draws people to him and he has that big, big smile that you see on mustard bottles,” she said. “And he’s just him all the time – he bounces through things in an incredible way; his whole personality is empowering.”

Romig’s son Cody Beard, 20, started helping Campbell’s business when he was 10 or 11 years old.

“My son and a friend of his or my little cousin were there in their ‘Mustard Man’ shirts (hosting tastings)… and (Campbell is) an inspiration to everyone, but young kids, they just eat that, ”Romig said.

She also believes in the product, coating a “it was to die for” pepper infused mustard breast.

“It’s really good on roast pork, in the slow cooker… and in soups and casseroles and whatever stuff I’ve added them to,” Romig said.

A “crazy respect” for the independents

Starting the small business took its life, admitted Campbell, who was born in North Dakota before moving to Akron when his father got a job as a field auditor at Firestone Tire Co.

“Until you put yourself in the shoes of the self-employed, you have no idea what’s going on in there,” he said. “And I have such a crazy respect for anyone who tries and tries and whatever they try.”

Campbell still holds product demonstrations throughout the region in stores and markets to raise awareness of their mustard by interacting gregariously with customers and posting their photos on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheMustardManOhio.

The pitchman’s favorite slogans are: “To taste is to believe” and “To put on your mustard”.

Selling “The Mustard Man” in more stores in the Canton-Akron area is one of Campbell’s goals.

But he has already survived many business start-ups. Word of mouth has helped. So have regular customers.

When asked what contributed to his success, Campbell replied, “Persistence and self-confidence.

“And you already believe in your product and everyone believes in your (family recipe).”

Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and ebalint@gannett.com

On Twitter @ebalintREP


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