CEO & Thyme Traveler
The Spice Guy
Industry: Food & Beverage
Zach Johnstons recipe for success in the food and beverage industry includes a few key ingredients: a dream, passion and spice. Lots of spice.
Johnston, CEO, The Spice Guy, started his company in 2013, investing his last $54.00. Five years later, The Spice Guy had become a nationally renowned food service brand, bringing in seven figures a year. Johnston said that what started as an, “I bet you won’t” idea from his then boss and first client, Frank Michaud of Chimayo Grill, has since turned into a multi-faceted company innovating food service on many levels.
“We refuse to believe that the second oldest profession on earth, spice trading, has been exhausted of all new ideas,” Johnston said. “With technology and willingness we believe we are changing the way people consume, purchase and think about spices."
Johnston is considered a titan in his industry due to his willingness to be the catalyst of change for the betterment of the environment, employee and customer well-being. Constantly developing new industry ideas, The Spice Guy was the first brand in Colorado to make the switch to 100% compostable packaging. What started off as such a small company now operates nationally with two production facilities and services USA coast to coast.
“The Spice Guy is seeing tech company growth while selling a physical product,” Johnston said. “The curve is steep and the ceiling is still very far away.” But the future is at his fingertips.
“We see The Spice Guy running 100% on solar power and we will have developed proprietary apps for customers to place purchase orders and communicate with us,” Johnston said. “We are producing less than 1 ton of non-compostable waste a year and moving into an all-electric fleet of vehicles. If growth were to continue at the same clip, TSG would be hitting revenues of over 14 million dollars. All employees will continue to have health benefits provided by the company and the 401k program is fully finished and employees will have profit sharing in the company.”
Johnston, a 2018 regional winner of Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year was also named one of the Top 5 Food Innovators in Colorado by Denver Life magazine. The Spice Guy was a winner for Colorado Companies to Watch in 2019. And with such notoriety, it is no surprise that Johnston plans to keep his position as a leader. He said that he plans to keep The Spice Guy influential by implementing more ways to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
“More composting, more upcycling, more renewable energy in our plants and vehicles,” Johnston said. “Our mark will be made with a statement, not a footprint.”
And in the food and beverage industry, change is always welcome. After all, variety is the spice of life.
For his willingness to be the catalyst of change for the betterment of the environment, employee and customer well-being, Johnston has been named a Titan of industry.
Greatest Leadership Lesson
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In a previous life Zach was a professional snowboarder. He now goes by the moniker, Thyme Traveler because he constantly travels to all the regions of the world to look at the spices, see how and where they are grown, embrace the culture and ultimately bring the best products in the world to restaurants all over the country.