Hello fellow Squirrels! Hopefully you read our last blog post, featuring our owner, Chris Thornley. If not, you should totally check it out here! We want you to know more about how we started, where we have come, and where we are headed. This week, our conversation is with Eric Senseman. Eric joined Squirrel’s about a year ago - in March of 2018. Roughly two and a half years into the birth of the company, Eric became the third employee. He chats with us about how he’s seen the company grow, and the role that it plays in the local community.
“Everyone here does a little bit of everything,” he tells me, “…which is fun. Chris started a company in a place where there aren’t a lot of great jobs, and he has created some great jobs, which is one of the very cool things about it. I think that’s what’s really cool about the way things are going for Squirrel’s Nut Butter, where Chris is able to support a local economy in Flagstaff, which is great.”
Flagstaff, Arizona is the birthplace of Squirrel’s Nut Butter, and has witnessed and been the home to its growth over the last several years. While it’s not the birthplace of Eric, he does now reside in Flagstaff, and plays a large part in the community. A local elite trail runner and wearer of many hats at SNB, Eric’s contribution to the ultra-running community does not go unnoticed. If you don’t see Eric at an aid station of a local trail race wearing a massive Squirrel costume, you’ll likely see him crushing the race himself.
Eric’s role at Squirrel’s involves acquiring and maintaining accounts, and, more broadly, to bring structure to the company. “Chris Thornley is very good with people, and with getting people excited, and a lot of important things when it comes to building a company, and my role has largely been making things a little more structured.” The ambassador program, for example, which many of you lovely people are a part of, is Eric’s baby. It’s things like these that help the company continue to grow.
I ask Eric about how he has seen the company evolve since his involvement, which provides a comical sneak peek into the history of Squirrel’s. “My very first day was in Chris’ bedroom, which had been taken over for Squirrel’s Nut Butter purposes. So he moved his bedroom to the living room - so Stacy and Chris’ bed was in the living room, and then their bedroom was Squirrel’s Nut Butter - it took over. So I think my first two days were there, and where we are now is our 1500 square foot facility. His bedroom had the melters, it had everything.” To say the company has come a long way from these days is an understatement!
Eric also makes note of the palpable increase in brand awareness in a short period of time. “I think the traction, in terms of awareness of the brand, there’s been a major increase in the last eight months, which is really cool to see.” From people recognizing Squirrel’s at events, to athletes reaching out and wanting to support the company, the growth is exponential.
“We’ve mostly been in the ultra-trail scene, and we have some exciting steps in that direction in the coming months. We’d like to start moving towards the marathon and road scene, and then longer term, move further into the triathlon world for example, endurance swimming events, cycling - mountain and road, endurance in particular.” (If you are a cyclist, or ever find yourself on a bike seat, our all-natural cycling salve is now out - Squirrel’s Saddle Butter!)
“Further ahead than that,” Eric continues, “the company was started for skin restoration purposes, so we’re getting back to that origin story, and expanding beyond just the sports world, where we currently have really exciting some projects going on!”