What started out in a garage kitchen in 2010 has turned into an international success story for Lavinia and Rodney Hensley. The High Point couple own and operate Big Boss Baking Co. Last week, Big Boss Baking sent its first shipment of locally made granola to China. Breaking into the Chinese market is another milestone in the company’s short but successful existence.
Prior to Big Boss Baking, the Hensleys were involved in the construction industry. When things turned sour during the Great Recession, Lavinia started baking cookies and other treats to sell at the Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax. Hensley says the company started out focused on cookies, but turned to granola after hearing from customers.
“Customer feedback was so important in the beginning,” Lavinia Hensley said. “And the farmers market was a great place to get feedback because you have so many different types of people who shop there.”
The Hensleys no longer sell at the farmers market, and they moved out of their garage kitchen this spring. Now, their eyes are set on the international marketplace. They’ve already had a few shipments to Canada, and the new shipment to China extends their exporting endeavors.
The Chinese order came out of an inbound trade mission organized by the department’s International Marketing Section. Trade missions bring international buyers to North Carolina to meet with local food companies interested in exporting. In March, the department organized two sessions in Raleigh and Concord. You can read about the Raleigh session here.
Big Boss Baking participated in the Concord session, where they met with representatives from Uniworld International Trading Co. of Beijing. Those initial meetings led to a 13,000-pound order of granola. The Hensleys hope that order will be the first of many for their company in Asia. In May, Big Boss Baking was one of several companies, along with the department’s international section, featured at the largest food show in China. A photo from SIAL China is below.