With 13 years of experience in food and beverage, Sanjiv Patel has already had a lifetime’s worth of career experience that other entrepreneurs in the industry would kill for. Patel’s career adventures with The Tetley Group and Stacy’s Pita Chip Company laid the foundation for his latest success, Lord Nut seasoned peanuts.
Patel landed his first job working as a factory accountant for Teltey Tea in England, where he gained experience of what goes on behind the scenes of manufacturing and the complexity of the food and beverage business. A couple years later, he found himself traveling to the United States to pursue a MBA degree at Babson College in Massachusetts.“I’m actually a chartered management accountant from London. Although I grew up stacking shelves in my dad’s convenience stores,” said Patel. “I never realized how the industry of grocery would play such a key role in my life.”
“My life had just crossed a threshold of great change. This great country amazed me with its energy, its ingenuity and overall passion to achieve,” said Patel. “While at Babson I immersed myself in business beyond numbers and learned a great deal, both from my lecturers and my classmates. It was actually because of Babson that I met Stacy Madison and Mark Andrus, the founders of Stacy’s Pita Chip Company.”
That introduction led to an unpaid internship which eventually led to a director of finance position at Stacy’s Pita Chips. The company experienced incredible growth and success during Patel’s time there and in January 2006, Stacy’s was sold to Frito Lay.
“In the three and half years I worked at Stacy’s I witnessed what can only be described as food industry magic,” said Patel. “We had incredible growth, great successes, and much heartache all mixed up into the soup of a whirlwind ride.”
Patel went back to London for a few years before coming back to the United States to continue his career in food. He saw an opportunity to bring the chip aisle experience into the underdeveloped snack nut category.
“I saw the nutritious peanut as a carrier of flavor in contrast to traditional snacking options,” said Patel. “One of my favorite brand stories is that of Ben and Jerry’s. I wanted to bring that spirit of flavor, fun and creativity to the peanut. I was going to load it with flavor and launch a brand that would bring the product to life.”
After weeks of working with a marketing agency, Patel decided that he wanted more than just a brand; he wanted a personality behind his peanut product. Thus, Lord Nut Levington was born. Targeting the influential millennial generation, the company made sure to give Lord Nut a whole world to explore and grow with by telling consumers about his origins, friends and of course, his flavor.
“Lord Nut is key to our product. I want people to experience our adventure with us and laugh with us as we grow into our clothes,” said Patel.
Today, as president of the company, Patel has led the growth of distribution to approximately 2,000 stores and over $1 million in annual revenue. His seasoned peanut line includes flavors like Spicy Bloody Mary, Hot Buffalo, Dill Pickle Ranch, White Cheddar & Jalapeno, Thai Curry & Lemongrass, and Zesty Chili Lime.
“Our seasonings are a commitment, not an afterthought. I think we really nailed it on our new dill pickle ranch recently but it took almost two years of starts and stops to get that right,” said Patel, “I’m still trying to figure out how to do a good sweet flavor. It’s out there. We will find it.”