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Not small peanuts.


YOU SEE THEM AT BEER parlors and at Jets games, in gourmet shops and at candy counters. In barely 18 months, Newton & Stewart's Nut Company have swept into the Winnipeg snack market, achieving what Proctor & Gamble or Post Cereals would spend millions to buy.

Partners Boyd Newton and Greg Guinan have parleyed an investment of $1,800 in 1989 into sales they expect to be $450,000 in their second year. Along the way, they have built a marketing company able to push not only coated peanuts, but other snack foods as well. From the start, when onetime fruit juice marketer Boyd Newton banged on the doors of the beer parlors in Winnipeg, to the present, it has been an achievement of persistence and more than a little wit.

Their goal is a kind of pot of gold at the end of a rainbow of snacks. The revenues earned by korn kurls and taco chips, cheez korn, barbecue chips and pork rinds are enormous. According to U.S. industry publication Snack Food, total revenues for Canadian sales of salty snacks are $1.8 billion. A few points of this market is literally worth a fortune.

Newton & Stewart's product line includes two basics - peanuts coated with salt, sugar and cocoa to resemble the well-known Beer Nuts, and a mesquite-flavored barbecue peanut. Recently, the firm introduced salted peanuts in the shell. Processed in Winnipeg, all of their products are sold in bars, major grocery outlets and at sporting events. "We go for visibility, even if it means lots of small accounts," says Boyd Newton. "Eastern Canada is the next challenge."

The partnership is an unusual one. Newton, 35, is a gruff man whose tough-guy manner conceals a supple mind. Greg Guinan, who runs The Village Pantry, an upscale gourmet shop on Corydon Avenue, is smooth enough to pass for a diplomat.

"What we have is not unique," admits Guinan, "because other companies make sugar and cocoa-coated lightly salted peanuts and some of our other products too. What we did is market them with a difference. We began with a strong black-and-white package that would translate immediately into a poster that was later adorned with the slogan, `Bring us another round and a bag of them nuts.'" The package and poster artwork was done by Newton's sister, Lee, a graphic designer with a studio in Osborne Village. The mesquite nuts got their own poster that declared: "So good you'll be tempted to eat them with a shovel."

"It's macho," suggests Guinan. "We have a strong message for the product. After all, this is a beer snack and that's the language for the audience."

Positioned at the Winnipeg Arena at stands where they are served warm, Newton & Stewart's nuts are gaining friends against majors who have, suggests Guinan, so far ignored their upstart company. For their part, Newton and Guinan have refused to buy their way onto major supermarket shelves by paying high listing fees to the vendors. When their products do go into all major markets, Guinan and Newton will square off against Planters. Soon, Newton & Stewart's may be too big for the majors to ignore. Given the huge revenues of the salted snack market, it's clear that the business is not just peanuts anymore.

PHOTO : Newton (front) and Guinan in their well-stocked warehouse. Nuts at the end of the rainbow.
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Title Annotation:Newton and Stewart's Nut Co.
Author:Allentuck, Andrew
Publication:Manitoba Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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