WOW! Factor Desserts
What started out as a humble bakery in a basement kitchen has blossomed into a thriving frozen desserts company. Now celebrating 30 years of business, The Canadian Business Journal talks to WOW! Factor Desserts about staying true to its founding principles of delivering quality, innovation, and above all, the WOW! factor to its customers.
An unwavering dedication to developing desserts that will create a lasting impression has resulted in WOW! Factor Desserts, one customer at a time, becoming Canada’s favourite choice for premium frozen desserts to be enjoyed in the food service industry.
Bob Callow is President and CEO of the Alberta-based national dessert enterprise. “It is interesting that our 30th anniversary coincides with the 30th anniversary of management guru Tom Peter’s book In Search of Excellence,” says Callow. “Essentially, the message of that book is: People, Customers, Action. I think if he had been writing that book today he would use WOW! Factor Desserts as a model. Our 30th anniversary has caused us to recapitalize and reinvest in our company, our assets, people, management and our products. We have emerged an energized and enthusiastic group of employees that wants to be the very best.”
Established in 1982, WOW! Factor Desserts grew to monthly sales upwards of $20,000 within the first six months. Today, the company is the leading upscale supplier of frozen dessert products in Canada and continues to expand the breadth of their more than 60 unique product offerings.
“WOW! Factor Desserts has a reputation for consistency and trend-driven products,” says Debbie Gust, Vice President, Marketing. “We believe in providing a wide range of products to support a variety of customers from white table cloth to mom and pop family restaurants.”
Most WOW! Factor Desserts are created in its Sherwood Park facility and then shipped to company owned redistribution warehouses in Langley, B.C. and Etobicoke, Ontario and many food distribution companies throughout Canada and some parts of the United States. The redistribution warehouses receive stock from Sherwood Park on a weekly basis and carry a two week inventory. This enables the company to ship to all their distributors from coast to coast on both sides of the border often in less than a week.
“Our manufacturing processes, combined with a stringent quality assurance program, ensure consistency of taste, texture and appearance for all our desserts” says Gust. “Beyond being just a manufacturer, WOW! Factor Desserts is a service company. We have a philosophy of ‘going above and beyond’ to provide a level of service unparalleled in the industry. Whether it’s supplying new and innovative products, coast to coast delivery with low minimum orders, quality you can count on, or street support, we are second-to-none.”
Ron Kent is Executive Vice President of WOW! Factor Desserts. He adds, “I like the idea that a guest on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean could be eating one of our delicious cakes at the same time as another guest is having our dessert in their favourite restaurant in Toronto. What makes this particularly exciting is that they both could be eating the same type of cake made from the same batch.”
Big taste, smaller portion
No one honours an anniversary like WOW! Factor Desserts. To celebrate nationally, WOW! Factor Desserts has unveiled 23 new products designed to treat and please its customers. “This has been the most new items we have ever launched in a single year,” says Gust.
Market assessment conducted by WOW! Factor Desserts has helped the company evolve to meet the changing tastes of its customers, who today look for quality desserts in smaller portions.
“We ask ‘How can we respond to our customers?’ The answer is by being fresh, having some excitement for customers, and showing them what is new and what we have to offer. That has been important to us and excellent in terms of focusing on our customer and understanding what they want,” says Callow.
The customers asked, and the WOW! Factor Desserts team delivered with a new banquet—or bite—sized dessert portion. The company has received a “fantastic” response to the cakes after having introduced them to caterers, casinos and other hotels. “We listened to what our customers were asking for and, each week the response is growing and growing,” beams Kent, of the desserts which end up costing less than a dollar per serving.
“Customers are in a place where they want to eat healthy, they want pleasure and they also want quality. There is no other company that can provide what the customer wants as effectively and quickly as we can,” he continues. “We are able to create a whole line of smaller portion high quality desserts that fit perfectly into some lower cost venues. We are very excited how this is going to work for us.”
This spring, WOW Factor Desserts is launching a family of Gluten Free products that will bring an added nutritional, trend conscious dimension to their unwavering dedication to be the best in desserts.
“No longer does anyone have to give up taste and quality when choosing a gluten free product,” says Callow. “We have gluten free products that absolutely taste amazing.”
The goal for WOW! Factor Desserts has always been clear. “We want people to be excited by our desserts, satisfied, and to find pleasure in our desserts, we are constantly working to make sure we understand the customer and where the trends are going, whether they are smaller, more health conscious,” says Callow.
The new gluten free Very Berry cheesecake is an example of the gluten free desserts [full disclosure: It is delicious]. “I think over the past year we have made a paradigm shift,” says Callow. “We still have the same magnificent obsession for excellence in creating the best desserts anywhere on the planet, but our company is evolving. In this market place you have to advance and you have to pay attention to what is going on.”
Despite tremendous success, WOW! Factor Desserts is still in search of excellence, and still bakes each dessert with the customer’s happiness in mind. “We are one of the only plants left where the workers on the line still decorate our cakes by hand so it’s quite something to see,” he continues.
Looking ahead, WOW! Factor Desserts is committed to continuing to deliver the best, most innovative desserts in the world.