Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spicy Business Is Hot Fresh Eddy Hits Big Time with His Salsa

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spicy Business Is Hot Fresh Eddy Hits Big Time with His Salsa

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

It started with a pot in his Mandarin home a few years ago, making salsa for parties.

But when Eddy Haage was down-sized from his job in mid-2000, a backyard party favor was turned into a business, and Fresh Eddy's mild to wild salsas have grown from being sold in a few health food stores to Publix supermarkets all over Jacksonville.

Because of that growth, a business in the back of a Hendricks Avenue storefront a year ago now has a store of its own on Old Kings Road South with seven employees.

"My dream is more than realized, and in such a short period of time," said Haage, wearing his trademark chili pepper chef's hat. "I didn't even think about it when someone told me to go ahead and do it, and now here I am with a jalapeno hat on my head."

The growth from a home kitchen operation to a gourmet niche salsa is an entrepreneurial miracle, said David Bailey, president of the Mandarin Council of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. Just one of 10 small business owners seem to succeed and grow, Bailey said, adding that Haage "has come a long way" since he joined the local chamber.

"There are a lot of ideas and they are good, but they [owners] don't have the energy or time to put in because they have other obligations," Bailey said. "He made a commitment to the council and his business has literally grown from his own kitchen and seven employees and distribution all over. We need more of that type of success."

Haage, formerly a national sales manager for a commercial pool company in Jacksonville, said his homemade salsa had been a popular party dip since he began making it in 1984. When the company laid him off, he began doing some business consulting. But when someone suggested the salsa was too good to be limited to friends' parties, he decided to sell it and incorporated as a business in January 2001.

The first batches -- with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, sweet carrot sugar, jalapeno peppers, avocado and other spices -- were made in his kitchen and sold at area health food stores. But in late 2000, eight health food stores and natural food markets signed on, while Publix started selling it in Atlantic Beach, Sawgrass and Marsh Landing last summer. …

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