Baton Rouge entrepreneur talks startup success, salad dressing with ‘Forbes’

In a new Forbes feature, Hanley Foods CEO Richard Hanley says his Baton Rouge-based company rang up about $150,000 in sales last year and projects revenue will double in 2016.

That’s despite just having two full-time employees: Richard and his wife, Kate. Even so, the couple has managed to expand distribution to 400 stores. This year, they hope to gain national distribution, Richard Hanley says.

“We’re doing everything it takes to grow this thing,” he says.

As Business Report detailed in an Entrepreneur feature last year, Hanley’s got its start in 2011 when Richard, a marketing professional, was mulling the idea of making and selling a “Sensation Salad” dressing originally made famous in Baton Rouge in the 1960s. He quit his job a year later and launched the business.

As Forbes notes, “an almost superhuman tolerance for bootstrapping” has been in the company’s DNA ever since.

“When Richard quit his day job, Kate went back to work full-time as a medical assistant, although she preferred to be home with their daughters,” reads the feature. “The Hanleys moved in with Richard’s parents to save money. Eventually, as business picked up, Kate joined Richard in the business full-time. They pay themselves a small monthly salary, if you could call it that.”

Hanley’s is now producing five varieties of natural salad dressing, including a dairy-free ranch, which has a creamy consistency without any dairy or eggs, and a strawberry vinaigrette. Richard also says they’re working on a “plant-based” version of Sensation that will taste as good as the original.

Hanley’s is also going after the institutional and restaurant market with two new powdered products, and they’re developing more recipes that use their “bettermilk,” a proprietary dairy-free, egg-free ingredient made from Canadian yellow peas, cocoa butter and coconut cream.

Read the full Forbes feature.

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