Sam Dennigan, the man behind Strong Roots shares his story, and tells us why striving for excellence is the bedrock of a successful company.
For 10 years I was working in the food industry selling fruit and vegetables but getting frustrated that we had so little time to turn them around. Perishability is a big problem with fruit and vegetables. I wanted to be able to brand a product, tell our story and not have only 3 days to do so as that’s the amount of time you have on the supermarket shelf. So I researched frozen food and realised that I could have the best of both worlds there: healthy, nutritious, convenient and high quality food that you can store in the freezer.
Honesty is essential to our brand message. The horsemeat scandal a few years ago really encouraged people to eat more healthily, or at least investigate what in fact they are eating in terms of nutrition and ingredients. Our goal is to make sure that the ingredients deck is as clean as possible and that we’re not hiding anything from the customer. An open model is the best because your customer really believes in your brand when they know the whole story. We want people to trust our brand and the only way to win trust is by being honest about what we’re doing.
Coming from a family business informed the way I shape the company hugely. In just 6 months we are now a family of 6 people full time and another 10 who work for us part time or indirectly. We work as a unit. We all know what each other is doing and it’s a rule that we sit down every week for a meal too when everybody is in the office. We are loyal to each other and know that in these early stages loyalty is what will make us strive to succeed in business and in growing our brand to other countries. In the family business we all had a vested interest in the 3rd generation business, it’s no different in Strong Roots.
We want to transform the frozen section of the supermarket. We won’t be able to do that if we are selling sub-standard product. Everything will be new, innovative, delicious and good value. Something we are working towards is trying to create a range that broadens the Irish palette and some day have the possibility of growing some different crops here that suit our climate and through the medium of frozen food be able to export into Europe and maybe further a field. Institutions like the Dublin Fruit, Veg & Flower Market on Mary’s Abbey, Moore St. and The English Market in Cork or something similar will always exist because people love engaging with experts in order to buy something they are going to consume. We have a thriving food industry with start-ups everywhere trying to fight for shelf space, which is making the products an extremely high quality as a result of the competition in the marketplace.
Like technology, the food world is now a small place. Every culture’s food is available in Ireland and Irish people are eating every culture’s food so we draw on current trends and tastes as well as the ones that are popular elsewhere but haven’t quite made it here yet. Over the next four months we are launching three more products, each as good as the first. We hope that this gives a good shape to the brand and tells more about who we are and where we are going. We’re really excited to get them out there as they are delicious and really good for you too.