“Honey Stinger is a company with 90 human employees and about 25 dogs.” For Sara Tlamko, Marketing Specialist, that balance represents why it’s great to work for Honey Stinger. Bill Gamber, a local entrepreneur, started three companies in Steamboat Springs. BAP (Bwear Active Protection) is an outdoor clothing company, Big Agnes manufactures premium tents and camping gear, while Honey Stinger sells honey-based energy bars, gels, chews and waffles. Although Sara insists each employee works for only one entity, the offices, repair shop and warehouses of the three companies have fluid dividing lines. And the dogs have outsized influence in the workplace; they lounge on the coolest areas of the floor while people walk over and around them.
The manufacturing required for the three companies is distributed among niche production sites all over the world. Some of Honey Stinger’s honey still comes from Bill Gamber’s parent’s farm, but the company has other sources, including a ‘certified organic’ island off the coast of Brazil that produces all of Honey Stinger’s organic honey. All products are shipped to Steamboat Springs where they are inventoried, warehoused, repackaged for sale, and sent to to retailers. “The UPS and Fed Ex guys just love us.”
Sara toured me through the distribution center where Honey Stinger product orders are packaged and mailed. We visited the marketing area and chatted with folks who negotiate with stores to get Honey Stinger on the shelves. “We started in bike and ski shops. Now we are in organic food stores, Whole Foods, and conventional groceries. We also sell directly to individuals, the military, boy scouts, and nutritionists.”
Each of Honey Stinger’s four product lines: energy bars, waffles, chews, and gels; come in a variety of flavors. At the end of the tour, Sarah gave me one sample of each product. I enjoyed honey-based snacks for the next few weeks of my trip.
Honey Stinger is a successful company in the expanding market of easy to carry energy foods. They are smaller than the market leaders like Power Bar and Cliff Bar, but differentiated as the only energy snack that uses honey as its principle energy source. “People are more conscious of their manufactured foods. We are moving toward creating our foods with fewer ingredients.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“Tomorrow we’re going to be more aware of our food sources and natural resources because there’s a limit. We’ll come full circle. Microwave dinners are not ‘in’ anymore. Natural ingredients are important. My mother says that I live like my grandmother because I knit and cook and fix things.”