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Susan Niczowski, founder and president of Summer Fresh Salads. (Handout)
Susan Niczowski, founder and president of Summer Fresh Salads. (Handout)

SUCCESS STORIES

‘Early crazy hours’ paid off for Summer Fresh Add to ...

I’m a very hands-on mother. I love to spend time with her and get involved her school and activities. Having her at 40 was great for me because with the infrastructure we have in place at Summer Fresh, I’m able to leave early or take that extra day’s vacation. But I think I work harder now than I ever have. A typical day would be getting up at five in the morning, going for a run, coming back, taking a shower, making breakfast for my daughter and dropping her off at school. I’m usually in the office about nine.

Q: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken with the business?

A: Trust in people. You have handshake agreements with customers, taking them for face value, and sometimes that doesn’t pan out. But nine times out of 10, people come through. I still trust people on a handshake, the old fashioned way of doing business.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: I love going into a retail store and seeing a wall of Summer Fresh products or going to a party or a barbecue and seeing people who don’t know who I am digging into our products. It’s amazing.

Q: What advice do you have for others in your industry?

A: It’s extremely competitive. Competition is good but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s not a nine to five job. It’s not about bring the company to $X-million and then selling it off. It’s about a lifestyle that you have to decide on for yourself. When I’m on vacation, I’ll go into restaurants and stores to see what products are out there, who’s the competition. You’ve really got to know your stuff in terms of your market and whether you’re making the next salad or dip that’s out there. To create a company starting with zero sales and take it to the next level, you’ve got to be living and breathing it all the time. You have to be extremely passionate about it.

Q: Do you want to see the company stay in the family?

A: We’re the No. 1 brand in Canada for ready prepared salads and dips, so we’re very proud of it. Do we want to see it continue as the No. 1 brand? Absolutely. Are my daughter or nieces ready to take it over? They’re too young so I really can’t say. If they have the right mindset, the right brains for it – then with pleasure. We’ll see.

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