Southwest Specialty has real kick
Hot sauce, salsa, barbecue popcorn and spicy jelly beans are just some of the products you can find at Southwest Specialty Food Inc. in Goodyear.
Owners Jeff and Linda Jacobs started making barbecue sauce in 1986, but their Valley-based company has grown to distribute more than 150 products in specialty stores around the world.
The Jacobses first housed their company in Glendale but moved to Goodyear because of the affordable land and open space. Linda said their Bullard Avenue address is ideal because of the nearby freeway exit to be built in the next few years.
The 50,000-square-foot facility is what Linda likes to call a “pick, pack and ship” production. The Jacobses grow habanero peppers and harvest them in November. They store the two-year supply in two 6,500-gallon tanks. Everything, from cutting ingredients to labeling bottles, is done in-house, which Linda said ensures the product quality.
Ass Kickin’ and Hot Sauce from Hell are the company’s two biggest lines, which include salsas, taco seasoning and olive oil.
“Those two brands kind of put our feet on the ground as far as our growth,” Linda said.
Customer input is the company’s greatest inspiration for new products. Linda said she always gets calls and e-mails with recommendations for new flavors or sauces.
In addition to the kitchen and shipping area, there is a silkscreen and print shop. The company makes novelty T-shirts and recently donated shirts to the nearby Southwest Valley YMCA branch.
Linda said Southwest Specialty Foods Inc. makes Goodyear more recognizable. The city’s name is on every product label, which are sent as far as France and Japan.
“We are really helping distribute the city of Goodyear with our distribution,” she said.
The company has grown from Jeff and Linda to a 29-person staff. Linda says she will need the help with Christmas on its way, one of their busiest times of the year.
Business continues to grow. The Jacobses recently created a snack division to promote only snacks, such as the flavored peanuts. Linda said she hopes to start an institutional division to get their product into restaurants.
The novelty food market is competitive, but Linda said the quality of their product keeps them in business.
“We would like to be the ‘everyone has in their refrigerator’ brand.”