Hanley’s preparing to make big pitch on CNBC’s ‘Billion Dollar Buyer’

    Hanley’s Salad Dressing is poised to go big time with an appearance early next year on CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer.

    The popular reality TV show is hosted by billionaire hospitality mogul Tilman Fertitta, who gives two small businesses an opportunity to impress him and compete for his business in each episode. The winner gets a deal to sell him their product, which Fertitta will test market in some of his 600 restaurant, hotel and entertainment properties, including Mastro’s and Morton’s The Steakhouse, Rainforest Café, Landry’s Seafood and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

    Fertitta and his CNBC production crew spent several days in September in Baton Rouge, filming Hanley’s operation at the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator, interviewing the company’s husband-and-wife owners, Richard and Kate Hanley, and tasting all 10 of the company’s dressings. The Hanleys then flew to Houston to make their pitch to Tilman.

    Richard Hanley can’t say what was in the bid they submitted, how much product Tilman might buy from the company or which of his restaurants, hotels or casinos he may put it in. But if they get the deal “it would be game changing,” says Hanley, who is under a nondisclosure agreement and cannot divulge any details about what will happen at the end of the episode.

    For Hanley’s, a national deal with a hospitality chain would be huge. Though the company has continued to grow every year since its founding in 2012—and even has its dressings in regional Walmart stores—the Hanleys are still making batches of their dressing by hand every week at the LSU food incubator.
    Currently, Hanley’s produces about 1,000 cases of six-ounce bottles for retail sale every month, and 300 cases of two-gallon containers for local restaurant clients, which now include all of LSU’s dining services. Revenues this year will top $200,000.

    Should they secure a deal with Fertitta, Hanley says the company would be able to ramp up production to meet demand, in large part because LSU has invested in automated bottling equipment for the food incubator and will install it next year.

    “That will make a tremendous difference for us and for the other tenants,” he says.   

    The new season of “Billion Dollar Buyer” airs Jan. 3. The Hanley’s episode is tentatively scheduled to air on Jan. 10. Once that is confirmed, Hanley says he’ll announce plans for a viewing party at a local restaurant.

    See photos of the filming here.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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