Mrs. Grissom Predicts Record Sacks This Football Season
Nashville, Tennessee—Mrs. Grissom’s Salads founder Grace Grissom and company CEO Kenneth Funger are predicting a record number of sacks in the 2009-2010 football season thanks to the company’s launch of one of their most aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns in 25 years.
Funger says an agreement recently struck with the Louisville district of Kroger that will put four flavors of Mrs. Grissom’s new cheese dips along side her very well known brand of pimento cheese, chicken, tuna, and ham salads in the meat case is expected to lift sales of the new dips as long-time Mrs. Grissom customers become aware of the new offerings.
“We are very excited to get the chance to showcase our new line of cheese dips,” said Funger. He admits the category is crowed with several other brands of the popular snack food but say they are confident that once people taste Mrs. Grissom’s cheese dips, they will be back for more.“We researched the category pretty thoroughly before the decision was made to enter it and decided that we could offer a better, cheesier option than was currently available,” added Funger. “The initial response has been very positive so we’re rolling it out in full force to see if the public at large agrees. We are very optimistic.”
Grace Grissom, and late husband Herbert, started the family business in 1955. Since then, several generations have grown up eating Mrs. Grissom’s salads and sandwich spreads. Now, the offerings are being expanded to include what has become one of America’s favorite snack items—the cheese dip.
“The Kroger partnership is the beginning of what we hope will be many other initiatives we have in the planning stages that will help assure a solid customer base will emerge for the new dips as well as a re-introduction to those who did not grow up in this area and who aren’t familiar with the Mrs. Grissom’s brand,” added Funger. “In an era where everything is mass produced and shipped nation wide, we think we’re still unique in that only people in this area have the privilege of enjoying a product that is still being produced by the founder of the company 55 years after its beginning.”
Grace Grissom Celebrates Turning 90 By Turning Loose New Cheese Dips!
One of Nashville's best known names has several reasons to celebrate during the month of August.Grace Grissom, the namesake and matriarch of the Mrs. Grissom Salads empire, will spend this coming Saturday afternoon gathering with family and friends to celebrate her 90th birthday.
"It's hard to believe that I'll be 90 this month," said a very energetic and seemingly ageless Grace Grissom. "People say time flies when you're having fun, so I must have been having a whole lot of fun because it seems like just yesterday Mrs. Grissom’s began. I can truly say that it has been a blast so far!"
From secretary to salad queen--generations have taken her to lunch
It all started back in 1955.America was still recovering from the effects of WWII. There were no golden arches, and the term fast food didn't exist as we know it today. Most meals were made from scratch and the traditional family unit was one in which the husband worked in a factory or construction and the wife was the homemaker.
Grace Grissom was working as a secretary in Knoxville, Tennessee while secretly dreaming of owning her own business during a time when women business owners were practically non-existent. “I had been working for Southern Railway in Knoxville for 12 years at the time and was offered a job with L&N Railroad in Nashville. My youngest daughter had recently been born prematurely. I had my hands full making sure she was taken care of so I told L&N I would have to pass on the job offer.
During that time, one of Grace's friends had a struggling company nearby that making sandwich spreads that were sold through local grocery stores. After talking with her friend about their business, Grace instinctively knew this was what she had dreamed of starting.
She and her late husband Herbert, became business partners with their friends, and before long, were making improvements in the way the products were made and sold. "Back then there were very few women in business," said Mrs. Grissom. "Herb was an excellent salesman and I was good in the kitchen so we decided that I would make the spreads and he would build the retail route.One day I told the husband of our partners that I wanted to make some changes in the way the products were made and marketed.He got mad and said that no woman was going to tell him what to do.So, Herb and I bought them out. That was the birth of Mrs. Grissom's Salads."
Since then, Mrs. Grissom's Salads have spanned the spectrum from from local neighborhood groceries to Wal-Mart Super Centers. And while the size of the batches of pimento cheese, and the chicken, tuna, and ham salad sandwich spreads has grown and the method of distribution has changed, there is one thing has remained constant over the past 53 years--that is Grace Grissom's uncompromising commitment to quality and old fashion goodness.
"If you ask most people about Mrs. Grissom's Salads, they'll probably say something about my pimento cheese.That was our first product and a half century later is still our best seller. A few years ago we had a customer tell us a story that touched my heart.
She said her husband loved the pimento cheese sandwiches and commented to her one day about how good they were.
She told him it was Mrs. Grissom's pimento cheese spread. He said there was no reason for them to be spending their hard earned money on some fancy store bought pimento cheese when she could make it herself at home.'After all,' he said, 'how hard can it be to make pimento cheese?'
So she bought some cheese, pimentos, and salad dressing and made several attempts to duplicate the taste of mine but she just couldn't do it.She finally gave up trying, but was afraid to tell her husband that she had failed so rather than admit defeat, she continued buying Mrs. Grissom's pimento cheese and put it into a bowl from home so her husband wouldn't know she had failed. He ate Mrs. Grissom's pimento cheese for the rest of his life and thought it was homemade.
Other sandwhich spreads were systematically added to their offerings in order to provide more variety. "I remember Herbert and Tommy, our sales manager, went calling on stores to ask them to add our chicken salad to the products they were already stocking.The store owner asked Herb if he liked the new chicken salad.Herb was as honest as the days were long and told the store owner that he had never actually tasted the new chicken salad but that if Grace had made it, he could bet it was delicious!"
Mrs. Grissom remains active in the business today and is loved, admired, and respected by all who know her. She has been honored by many organizations over the years including NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) for her outstanding record of achievement. She also served for eight years as chair of the board of directors of MartinMethodistCollege in Pulaski, Tennessee.
"My husband and I worked day and night to build the business and loved every minute of it," smiled Mrs. Grissom as she reminisced about the company's early days. "I still enjoy coming in and working. Of course, I leave the 18 hour days to the younger folks now," she laughs.
While most people who turn 90, or 80, or 70 are dreaming of days of leisure and extended vacations, the entreprenural spirit that sparked the startup in 1955 is still going strong. "To tell you the truth, I just love this business and I'm one of those people who can't sit around and do nothing. Recently, we started talking about what else we could offer that people would enjoy.I know I love dips and, while there are some good ones on the market, I thought there was room for improvement so we're introducing a new line of cheese dips to Nashville this month and from what people tell me,they are pretty darn good," added Mrs. G as she is affectionaltely known to many. After two years of refining the recipes, I think we've hit upon some of the best tasting dips on the market.They are very cheesy and full of flavor," she smiled.
"I haven't had this much fun since Herb and I started Mrs. Grissom's Salads back in 1955," beamed an enthusiastic Grace Grissom as she talked about launching her new line of products.
What advice would Mrs. Grissom give to other aspiring entreprenuers considering taking the plunge and starting their own business?“Unless they know something about the particular business they want to go into, they need to check it out very carefully before they jump into it. It is much easier to jump into a business than it is to jump out of it,” she smiled.
Today, over a half century after jumping into her business, Grace Grissom is glad she did.“It’s a lot of hard work and there will be times when you wonder why you ever thought you’d like to be in business for yourself but the rewards are worth it.I would do it all over again if I had the chance.”
When you pick up a container of Mrs. Grissom's Salads, you can be sure you are getting the same goodness and quality that Mrs. Grissom's customers have been enjoying for over 50 years.