Burrito maker’s growth in overdrive since entrepreneur added partners | VailDaily.com

Burrito maker’s growth in overdrive since entrepreneur added partners

Greg Griffin
The Denver Post
RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostWorkers hand-roll burritos along the line at Evol Burritos in Boulder. The company makes 450,000 burritos a month at the plant and distributes the frozen all-natural products in 15 percent of grocery stores nationally.

A warm burrito hand-delivered in aluminum foil is a time-worn tradition in Colorado. But when Boulder chef and rock climber Phil Anson tried his variation on the business 10 years ago, it flopped.

Anson tried to sell fresh, all-natural burritos to climbers in Eldorado Canyon.

“It didn’t work,” he said. “One reason is that I was this white kid doing that. People couldn’t connect the dots.”

Today, Anson oversees weekly production of more than 100,000 burritos that are distributed to 4,000 grocery stores. Evol Burritos, co-owned by Anson and entrepreneurs Brendan Synnott and Tom Spier, calls itself the country’s No. 2 natural-frozen-burrito company.

Anson’s climb from dejected upstart to burrito magnate has the makings of a business-school case study.

After his first failure, the former line chef began placing labels and a brand name on his burritos. They started selling.

Soon, he was delivering them daily to Front Range natural grocery stores.

In 2008, Anson began freezing his burritos, and distribution expanded from coast to coast. Phil’s Fresh Foods reached $1 million in sales, but Anson felt overwhelmed. He didn’t have the money or expertise to go further.

Then, through a mutual friend, Anson met Spier and Synnott, who were living in Vail. Synnott co-founded Bear Naked Granola in 2002 and sold it in 2007 to Kellogg’s for $60 million. Spier was the Connecticut company’s financial and operations chief.

The two bought a stake in Phil’s in April 2009. The multimillion-dollar deal gives them a majority share, Synnott said. Anson remains an equity partner, chef and chief executive.

They changed the name to Evol (Synnott’s idea; it’s “love” spelled backward) and cranked up the marketing, production and distribution.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_15065462

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