By Alicia Cunningham | Jul 10, 2016
Employees: 2 full time
When Veronica Wilson’s family came to the United States generations ago, they brought with them a few possessions. Luckily, included on the journey was one very valuable family recipe for dressing.
“I’ve been making dressing my entire life,” Veronica Wilson, owner of Roglianos, shares. “I would make it with my grandmother. We’d hold the ingredients, measure them out in our hands, and store it in pickle jars.”
As an adult, Wilson continued to make dressing for her own family and friends. “Friends loved it. And they would ask me for a jar for a party or because they had guests coming over for dinner. It got to the point where I was making it every week for friends.”
In exchange for the salad dressing, friends would pay Wilson with a loaf of bread, a gift card, or an invitation to lunch. Many of these offerings sat on Wilson’s kitchen counter. “And my husband asked me, wouldn’t you rather be making money? Wouldn’t you rather just have cash?”
Wilson admits they had no idea where to begin. But they took six months to call people who did know what to do. “We called the Department of Agriculture. The people of Utah’s Own within the Department of Agriculture have been an amazing resource. We called resources at Utah State University. We asked a lot of questions. Everyone was so helpful. There was not a single person that did not want to help us get our product out and get us going in the right channel.”
Jeff Wilson, Veronica’s husband, also took several months to study best practices on the manufacturing side. “We had two goals when it came to manufacturing,” he says. “We never wanted to make anyone sick. And we did not want to cause a zombie outbreak.”
An initial problem to overcome was the manufacturing process for the dressing itself. Wilson grew up making the dressing by hand: a little of this, a lot of that. But those specifications did not work for the Department of Agriculture. “Our process did not work on a large scale,” Wilson admits. “We worked really hard to keep the original flavor while getting our manufacturing process approved. We had to follow the guidelines but keep the flavor and ingredients the same.”
Jeff Wilson is responsible for purchasing all the needed components, and he has found nearly everything he needs for the dressing within the state of Utah. He purchases the bottles from an industrial container supply store and nearly all of the ingredients from the Restaurant Depot in Salt Lake City. Manufacturing itself is done in an industrial kitchen in nearby Ogden. “Some specialty ingredients I do have to have mailed over here. But most are right here in Salt Lake,” he says.
Building this business is very personal to Wilson. “It’s my heritage,” she says. “This dressing is my family staple. It is important to me that people get to try it and experience it. That they enjoy it with their family and the people they love. Because that’s what it represents to me.”
Challenge: Time. Wilson knows she only gets out of her business what she puts into it, and she is committed to sharing her product with as many people as she can. “But when you think of the dressing aisle in the grocery store, there are dozens on dozens available. We cannot get lost in a sea of dressing. We have to get our product in people’s mouths and talk to them. And that takes time.”
Opportunities: Jeff Wilson says many retailers have reached out and asked to carry their dressing. He is excited about the opportunity, but he wants to ensure they grow in the right way. “We are trying to be very careful,” he says. “We are focused on slow and steady growth but know great opportunities await around the corner.”
Need: Money is a primary need. “We cannot compete with Kraft or Hidden Valley,” Wilson says. “Names everyone knows. And that’s fine. I like the local feel. But I do want to grow, and that takes money.”