Justin Gold, founder of the snack company that bears his name, takes pride in producing healthy products that don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or hydrogenated oils. Jonathan Castner / for BizWest

‘Better for you’ turns out better for Justin’s

BOULDER — Justin’s almost doubled its growth in 2012 by rebranding as a company that makes “better for you, nut-based snacking” products that include peanut butter cups and candy bars.

Not only was 2012 a very busy year for Justin’s, but peanut butter cup sales are expected to help the company double its growth again in 2013, according to founder Justin Gold. Different flavors of candy bars round out the mix of growth products. The former Justin’s Nut Butter LLC previously focused on nut butter products.

Justin’s revenue grew 227 percent from $5.3 million in 2010 to $20 million in 2012, placing it No. 3 on the Boulder County Business Report’s Mercury 100 list of fastest-growing companies in Boulder and Broomfield counties for companies reporting more than $2 million in annual revenue.

Gold said the “better for you” snacking idea has been a dream of his since he started the company in 2004. Since nuts are very nutrient-dense and high in fat and high in calories, customers want smaller portions, Gold said. Now the company is listening to them — with plans to roll out a smaller, nut-based candy bar product soon, Gold said.

“People are requesting candy bar ‘bites.’ We’re calling it a permissible indulgence,” Gold said.

Gold said his namesake peanut butter cups taste better than other ones on the market because they don’t have high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or hydrogenated oils.

In 2012, Gold also won the 2012 Esprit Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Boulder Chamber, rolled out a variety of new candy bars in March, moved to a new, bigger office in Boulder in August and opened manufacturing centers around the United States.

As customers discovered Justin’s products, the company outgrew its previous relationship with Louisville-based contract food manufacturer Fresca Foods, Gold said. As a result, he decided to sign contracts with manufacturing facilities around the country that have been manufacturing and distributing the products for about a year.

Gold founded the company making nut butters with a food processor in his home kitchen and selling them at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. He said his roommates would steal the nut butter out of the refrigerator, and he had to label the containers “Justin’s.”

After a while, Gold’s roommates were paying him for the nut butters, and the company was expanding its popular snacks into Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) stores across the nation.

The company also was helped by Whole Foods Market, which loaned it $100,000 in October 2010, following a loan of $50,000 in 2007. Both loans were paid back in full.

BOULDER — Justin’s almost doubled its growth in 2012 by rebranding as a company that makes “better for you, nut-based snacking” products that include peanut butter cups and candy bars.

Not only was 2012 a very busy year for Justin’s, but peanut butter cup sales are expected to help the company double its growth again in 2013, according to founder Justin Gold. Different flavors of candy bars round out the mix of growth products. The former Justin’s Nut Butter LLC previously focused on nut butter products.

Justin’s revenue grew 227 percent from $5.3 million in 2010 to $20 million in 2012, placing it No. 3 on the Boulder County Business Report’s Mercury 100 list of fastest-growing companies in Boulder and Broomfield counties for companies reporting more than $2 million in annual revenue.

Gold said the “better for you” snacking idea has been a dream of his since he started the company in 2004. Since nuts are very nutrient-dense and high in fat and high in calories, customers want smaller portions, Gold said. Now the company is listening to them — with plans to roll out a smaller, nut-based candy bar product soon, Gold said.

“People are requesting candy bar ‘bites.’ We’re calling it a permissible indulgence,” Gold said.

Gold said his namesake peanut butter cups taste better than other ones on the market because they don’t have high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or hydrogenated oils.

In 2012, Gold also won the 2012 Esprit Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Boulder Chamber, rolled out a variety…