How Siggi’s Grew From A Nostalgic scan To An Icelandic Yogurt Empire

fast success and excessive demand showed Siggi Hilmarsson that he had quite a bit to study.

June 1, 2015

When Siggi Hilmarsson moved to NY city from Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2002, he quick grew nostalgic for the thick skyr yogurt he grew up eating as a child. on the time, all the yogurt in the U.S. was once so runny and packed with sugar, he could not stomach it. Hilmarsson was once getting his MBA at Columbia and went on to take a job as a consultant for Deloitte. however his hankering for skyr, the thick tart yogurt conventional to Iceland, never faded.

In 2004, Hilmarsson’s mother faxed some recipes for skyr from her native library in Iceland, and he started tinkering within the kitchen of his new york loft. the first batch used to be terrible and the subsequent couple were hit and miss. Hilmarsson quickly learned that making yogurt requires controlled temperatures he couldn’t get in his drafty Tribeca loft.

Siggi Hilmarssonphotograph: Ruvan Wijesooriya

the following wintry weather, Hilmarsson told his boss at Deloitte he used to be happening a ski shuttle, and instead went upstate to a college dairy plant he rented out for three days. There he made his first batch of skilled yogurt. He nonetheless didn’t know if this was once a nerdy passion or a practicable trade thought. He just needed to make tasty yogurt.

After three days, he had 300 containers of skyr on his hands. All that yogurt would not slot in his fridge, so Hilmarsson started giving it away. He gave samples to a pal who worked at Murray’s Cheese, an artisanal dairy retailer in big apple. no longer long after, the shop’s buying committee reached out to Hilmarsson trying to start out selling Siggi’s. He gave some skyr to a former industry faculty professor at Columbia who wanted to spend money on the business. with his first consumer and investor in hand, Hilmarsson made up our minds to quit his consulting job and give yogurt making an even chance as a industry.

That first 12 months, Siggi’s made it into 15 shops in big apple. Hilmarsson used to be happy with the company’s progress. Then he obtained a name that changed everything. entire meals wanted to inventory Siggi’s in all its outlets throughout the united states of america. “after we went into whole meals, i realized possibly i’m not simply going to be a fab yogurt man in the big apple,” Hilmarsson says. And he was right. as of late Siggi’s is bought in eight,800 shops around the united states.

Planning—not Scrambling—for achievement

That preliminary name from whole foods in 2007 caught Hilmarsson off defend. He’d given some samples to a yoga retreat in the Hamptons, the place, unbeknownst to him, one of the participants happened to work at whole foods. When Hilmarsson came upon the retailer needed to sell Siggi’s in its stores across the united states, he wasn’t sure how to transfer ahead in the beginning. the rise in manufacturing was once overwhelming. “The yogurt changed into a lot more a success than we expected on the time,” he says.

Hilmarsson determined to start promoting at whole foods on the East Coast in the first half of of 2008 ahead of increasing to the complete u . s . a .. however he speedy discovered the dairy facility he used to be working with in ny did not have enough cooling gear to retailer the product, and Hilmarsson had to make the painful decision to forestall producing and transport yogurt unless the corporate was once better outfitted.

He spent that summer elevating money to buy the wanted equipment, and after a 3-month production ruin, Siggi’s used to be prepared to start out shipping once more in the fall. still, that hiatus was once painful for Hilmarsson—realizing the company had a product folks needed that he could not but ship.

Hilmarsson won’t let that roughly setback occur again. Now he plans for the company’s success fairly than letting it seize him off shield. In 2013, to ensure Siggi’s might deal with growing demand, the corporate began transitioning to a larger plant. as of late Siggi’s has a 2nd manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, a defend to ensure there may be all the time a backup must anything else go incorrect. because the industry expands into more shops and merchandise, that facility is getting used extra. “When your enterprise grows sufficient, you do not want to depend on just one plant,” says Hilmarsson. Now when the demand rolls in, he is on the ready to satisfy it.

studying one of the best ways To Make selections

while his business school historical past helped him make more calculated trade decisions, in hindsight, Hilmarsson says, being overly calculated often held him again from performing on what his intestine advised him. He’d overanalyze the placement or feel the wish to construct a business course of round something fairly than simply following his instinct. Most entrepreneurs suffer from the other soreness, acting too brashly for their business’s own good. however in Hilmarsson’s case, letting go of the need to analyze and trusting his personal intuition extra was a talent that took time to grasp.

On the flip facet, that also meant no longer letting the pressures of the second mar his pondering. “once in a while you’re beneath this false illusion that it’s important to decide then and there,” he says. “rushing a call that is going to impression your enterprise for the following 10 years because someone on the cellphone says you want to is roughly bogus.”

photo: Siggi’s Dairy

Getting The brain Off The trade

probably the most best things Hilmarsson has finished to help him better run Siggi’s has little to do with trade. whereas exercising continuously has at all times been vital to him, around 2010, he started playing basketball more frequently and located that having to center of attention his mind fully on the sport fairly than ruminating about work whereas, say, running, gave him a a lot-needed mental destroy. Now Hilmarsson makes certain to play at least twice a week to have that mental smash from work.

“it can be nice to have that combination of occupying your thoughts and your physique and just carrying yourself out,” he says. “if you are match and happy, you function better.”

[photograph: Flickr person Juhan Sonin]

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