How the Chocolate Chip Cookie Saved DWC

new cookieWho doesn’t love a fresh homemade chocolate chip cookie?  I prefer mine a little warm so the chocolate is slightly melted inside.  As we celebrate DWC’s 7th birthday this month, I thought I would look back at the early years and share a quick story of how the chocolate chip cookie kept our organization from closing its doors.

The year was 2009 and we had no real value to our distributors.  No inventory, no brand, no technology, nothing.  No matter who we cold called, no one would ever call us back and most distributors refused to even add us as a supplier.  The company was losing thousands of dollars every month and the future was not bright for DWC.

One day I walked into Subway to grab some lunch.  That day I noticed a pungent, yet very pleasant smell of fresh cookies.  I typically do not get cookies at Subway but the smell alone was enough to make me buy one this time.  I asked the cashier about the cookie and she said, “We make them fresh daily,” as she pointed back to her cookie oven.  I went home and told my wife, Alice, about how we should use fresh cookies to lure our customers to do business with us.  The smell made me buy a cookie that day, so maybe it would make the distributors buy from us.  This idea was right up there with the iPod and the electric car, I know.

Alice, being the awesome baker she is, said ”You need an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie oven and dough.”  I quickly Googled it and, sure enough, it was the same one I noticed at Subway that day.  I found a used one that night on eBay and got started on my not so revolutionary idea to save the business.

Costco had the dough and within a week the oven was baking fresh cookies.  We set it up in the office kitchen.  We started coming in early to bake the cookies for the customers.  You can’t imagine how good the office smelled with fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies being baked in that oven.  Our Live Healthy value was out the window with how many cookies we would sample each morning.  The cookies would be boxed and delivered by the dozens to customers all over the state for many months.  The distributors loved them of course and we slowly started building trust with our fresh cookie model.

The cookie idea ended up being more than just about baking cookies for customers.  That little cookie oven brought us all together with a common purpose.  We went from being depressed about the sales numbers, to focused on baking cookies each day as a team.  The handful of us working at that time all needed something positive to hold on to.  It’s hard not to be in good spirits when all you smell is fresh cookies all day.  That little oven was hope for us.

When I hear a DWC Family member share a new idea, I can’t help but to think about that little cookie oven.  It may have been the first idea that helped spark every idea after it.  Sure, it was a used cookie oven to most folks but without it, DWC would have been just another statistic in the world of start-ups.

There is a quote by Michael Porter that says “A company without a strategy is willing to try anything.”  We were just that back in the early years.  A fledgling organization taking any risk necessary to avoid its demise.  Today, our DNA at DWC remains the same.  A willingness to always try new ideas and never give up.

-Written by Bryce Huett, DWC CEO