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FunkyChunky with Ryan Kuo, Owner, feature #105 of Together Talks

"Together Talks" feature #105: FunkyChunky presented by KLS, freight company

Some Background on Funky Chunky

For today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the chance to interview FunkyChunky and Owner, Ryan Kuo. FunkyChunky® luxury chocolate snacks look as good as they taste. Popcorn, pretzel twists and other gourmet ingredients are thickly drizzled with a combination of dark chocolate and a proprietary blend of milk and white chocolates and then broken into pieces giving them a “funky chunky” abstract look.

The line consists of FunkyChunky Popcorn, FunkyChunky Candy Cane Popcorn, FunkyChunky Pretzels, FunkyChunky Peanut Butter Pretzels, FunkyChunky Caramel Corn, FunkyChunky Chocolate, FunkyChunky Candy Bars, FunkyChunky Chip-Zel-Pop and their newest product line, FixMix. All are OU Dairy certified kosher.


Beginning ownership

The beginning of FunkyChunky was in the mid 1990's. For over 30 year years it was ran by the same family. When the founder passed away over a decade ago, it was then sold. This is where Ryan became introduced to the company. At the time he worked for a private equity firm who acquired FunkyChunky. Ryan spent a few years working with the company as they tried to expand it, until ultimately the head of the PE decided he wanted to sell it. Ryan always knew he wanted to work for himself, he had just never found the opportunity. He was able to raise some money from investors and bought FunkyChunky.


Ryan explained how vast the snacking market is in the US as it is hard to quantify specific competition. In short, popcorn space, corporate gifting, fundraising, and snacking in general are all industries that have overlapping competition for FunkyChunky. Ryan explained how they are at the level of building awareness and trying to focus on that versus market share at this moment. He explained it as impulse buying versus switching all together. Their current position is trying to fit a need for consumers that is not being met and over time they will grow to a level that obtaining market share is the next logical step of growth.


Ryan explained what makes FunkyChunky so unique, "We are a different type of snack. Most are Salty plus sweet/savory or indulgent. We combine the both to be the best of the two. The final product is more like a bark, that is where the funky comes from and the hunks of pieces you pull out is our chunky. Ryan also talked about how important branding and packaging matters in the CPG space, but it comes down to one important quality, "It has to taste good. It doesn't matter how good something looks, if it doesn't taste good the product can't grow." FunkyChunky is focusing on quality and taste which is spearheaded by their 6 core flavors with additional seasonal items and their cafe line. Ryan also believes they excel by providing different sizes and price points. Also the products are mostly resealable, but Ryan said they like to say they rarely get resealed!

When to implement

Ryan previously was a strategy and operations guy before entering the role of Owner. He credited a mind shift a few months in to owning it realizing that he would have to lead the time to grow their way out. His flexibility of mind as he described it allowed him to see the bigger picture for the company. Ryan credited the 5 years of working alongside FunkyChunky as beneficial prior to taking over leading. He said while there was some downside, overall it was overwhelming positively an advantage. It allowed him to know the history of the company, financials, background, customers, and story. This incredible insider knowledge gave him a great head start he believes when he took over the reins.

Ryan started in the Army serving before transitioning to Fortune 500 companies in corporate America. He saw individuals doing things in a GM role or running businesses with big picture type of roles that he believed he would succeed in. Incredibly he shared that the jobs he obtained throughout his career were never existing roles, but always created for him. Ryan credits his ability to touch every function of a business over his career which gave him knowledge of how a business operates. He felt he got to a point where he needed to take his experience and knowledge and test it out. Working with FunkyChunky was his initial foray into this type of decision making role. When the opportunity to buy it presented itself, Ryan told us his previous boss tried to dissuade him from it, "It was a crisis of confidence. It takes immense amount of courage to start or buy a company."


Ultimately Ryan bet on himself and acquired FunkyChunky. He had a 3 phase strategy when acquiring, first was to prove they could get to break even as a company. They succeeded in the first year. Ryan mentioned how the entire team felt good about delivering on that goal and celebrating together. He reflected that the 2nd year they ended up being a bit overconfident and not as disciplined with execution. The shifting mindset from the first year as hungry and determined slightly fell off. That has led to them really getting back to their roots, being detail focused.

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Our nationwide coverage provides companies a reliable, consistent, and dependable logistics partner to handle your trucking needs.
For more information on how we can help call our office today 708-980-0920 or reach us via our email quote request here!
Challenges

Being a small business the ability to grow and scale, but doing it efficiently. Finances are under everything requiring the cash flow to execute their plants is essential. Prior to Covid the business was small. In 2021, they doubled. They grew again in both 2022 and 2023. Ryan believes that they are no longer at the size where they need to provide proof of concept. There is a track record of growth, proven demand, and knowing who their customers are. FunkyChunky is at the stage of scaling operations of not constantly in chaos mode.


Ryan shared that his favorite aspect is leading people and helping guide them to achieving a goal. He continued, "As a team, when we achieving something it is very satisfying. Knowing I can make decisions without somebody hanging over your shoulder allows us to become faster and quicker with our implementation." He mentioned how important it is to balance the ability to move quickly while also listening to the suggestions of the team members to view other opinions. Ryan said when a decision is made though everyone has to be pushing in the same direction in order to execute it.


Running a business is extremely stressful and Ryan doesn't believe he will ever feel like he could breathe. There is always a level of paranoia that accompanies owning a small business, but being comfortable is when something will happen. Ryan told us how it is important to be ok living in that stress, but necessary to find balance to not get distracted or burnt out. He credits his time in the Army as the greatest thing that happened to him professionally as it allowed him to compartmentalize. No one can function to their highest level always being in the stress box, but functioning within that real is necessary.


Laser-Focus

Ryan explained that the company is going through investment foundation mode, focusing on getting their cost structure right. Line by line they are evaluating what processes can be improved on. He stated the importance of looking wholistically and negotiate all facets of running a business to find any area to make the company leaner and more efficient. He also wants the company to continue focusing on their brand awareness staying on their upward trajectory to becoming a recognizable national brand. Their focus is continuing to develop the right partners and agencies to have the right messaging for each product to maximize their exposure to consumers.


While the company is already national, they aren't a big company. They reach each corner of the country, but Ryan and his team have visions of increasing the accessibility of FunkyChunky nationwide. He shared with us how cool it is when he is in the airport talking business or walking through a store wearing merch and someone stops him to explain how much they love the product. FunkyChunky is synonymous with sweet & salty snacks and increasing their exposure is the next level they hope to reach.

 

We asked Ryan to reflect on a moment in time that brought him the most joy, he shared, "When we first started operations to where it is today. I remember I was in Minneapolis visiting our plant, end of the night I was having a beer in the hotel bar and it was the night the NBA shut down due to Covid. The next few days everything stopped. It looked like our business might be done. We saw some traction right away with eCom, we pivoted and went all in on that." He told us that without that move, they business wouldn't exist today. It changed their entire trajectory overnight. He said his team keeps that period of time in mind whenever they encounter adversity, "The worst thing in the world could happen and you can still find a route to succeed. Maintain optimism."


Piece of Advice

The conversation with Ryan ended with him sharing his piece of advice.

"Where you are is not where you’re going to land.

Things change.

Did I think I was going to get into gourmet chocolate covered popcorn, had no idea.

Opportunities will arise that you’ll have no way to forecast or project. Prepare yourself knowing an opportunity will come and have the courage to take a shot at some point.  Whether this works or doesn’t, I won’t regret the decision I made."


Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
KLS is booking our upcoming schedule now!
Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
Weekly we provide 2 companies our platform to expand their reach courtesy of our campaign. Let's collaborate!!!
In Closing

KLS wants to thank Ryan Kuo, Owner, of Funky Chunky for today's "Together Talks" feature. Follow along for their journey with their social handles below!


Together Talks with FunkyChunky feature #105 - presented by KLS, Klimson Logistics Solutions, freight company

Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with FunkyChunky feature #105

*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!


Why KLS?

Our precise and reliable effort.

We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.


Our Process?

Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.

Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.

The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.

Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.

Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.

You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.

For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.

This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.


Services offered?

Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.


Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth

LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).

Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.

FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.

Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution

What makes KLS different?

There are thousands of freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.

Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.

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