It's all about marketing [South Bend Tribune, Ind.]By Alice Culp, South Bend Tribune, Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 15--SOUTH BEND -- It is an ideal partnership for South Bend-based New Carbon Co., which makes and sells Carbon's Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle flour.
It all started with an April Fools' joke that flavored syrup company, Torani in San Francisco, played on its customers this year. It announced a new (made-up) syrup flavor, Chicken 'N Waffles.
The social media response was tremendous. So, Torani decided to make the syrup for real.
That's when New Carbon, headquartered at 4101 William Richardson Drive, got involved.
"It's a fun partnership that started because of our gourmet background," said Becky Beckman, vice president of sales and marketing for New Carbon.
The 75-year-old company manufactures waffle and pancake flour and builds industrial waffle irons here in South Bend. Its food service division -- its largest division -- services hotels, casinos and restaurants across the nation and in 25 different countries worldwide.
Anyone who samples a Belgian waffle at Perkins Restaurant & Bakery or Bob Evans, or eats a waffle cone at Dairy Queen, is enjoying some of New Carbon's products.
"It's the same if you go to the waffle bar in a hotel," Beckman said, explaining that 90 percent of the hotels in the United States use New Carbon products.
But since the company started a retail division around 10 years ago, it has been working on growing its brand recognition.
"We started canning our mix and reaching a whole new market," Beckman said. The mix retails in places such as Williams-Sonoma, Home Goods and World Market. It also has retailed locally at Shelton's Farm Market in Niles and Indulgence Pastry Shop in South Bend.
The challenge, Beckman said, is getting the general public to recognize the brand because people don't think about the origin of their Perkins' waffle or Dairy Queen waffle cone.
"We're trying to be as creative as possible," she said, of the company's efforts to change that.
So, it made sense when World Pantry in San Francisco, a company that both Torani and New Carbon use to process their online orders, suggested the two companies take advantage of the natural pairing of their products.
Beckman, along with other employees at New Carbon, got the chance to try the syrup. Her first response when she heard about the flavor was the same as many of the Torani fans.
"Wow. That's going to be interesting," Beckman said, but she added: "It actually tastes pretty good. Torani has a little recipe for mixing the syrup with butter and it tastes really good on waffles."
Customers can buy a Deluxe Breakfast Lovers Gift Box on the website of either company for $29.95.
The sage green gift box includes a 16-ounce can of Carbon's Golden Malted Original Pancake & Waffle Flour, a bottle of Torani's Chicken 'N Waffles Syrup and a 12-ounce bag of Caffe Sonora's Organic Breakfast Blend ground coffee. But Torani made only a limited amount of the flavor, so the box is available only while supplies last.
The public's response has been good, Beckman said, and it has doubled New Carbon's reach.
"I get messages on our Facebook page and Torani -- which has a larger following -- has some on theirs," she said. "We link to each
others' social media pages and recommend each other to customers."
However, the partnership with Torani is just the latest move the company has made to help grow its brand recognition.
In April, it debuted a waffle truck, which travels around for fundraisers and festivals, like the Blueberry Festival in Plymouth.
And the company's efforts have been successful. Since it began working with World Pantry three years ago, New Carbon's online sales have increased 20 percent. It also has outgrown its present 40,000-square-foot facility in South Bend and is looking to move to a facility double that size in the near future.
"We're planning to stay in the area," Beckman said, "but we're excited about the opportunities this could give us."
Staff writer Alice Culp: email@example.com 574-235-6343
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