North Mallow with Mike Nelson feature #58 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature #58: North Mallow presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on North Mallow
Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview North Mallow and founder Mike Nelson. Sparked around a Minnesota campfire, the idea of a flavorful, better-for-you marshmallow inspired them to create North Mallow marshmallows.
As camp counselors, they have some serious s’more-making skills and recognized that the simple act of roasting marshmallows created joy and connections among our campers - experiences that would last a lifetime.
Together as a husband and wife team, Mike and Christine want to share the joyful moments they experienced at camp and successfully improve upon the classic to deliver a delicious line of mallows that roast to the perfect, gooey consistency and that we all can feel good about sharing with our family, friends, and campers.
Mike and Christine believe food should be made with simple, real ingredients. Unlike traditional marshmallows, North Mallow never use high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, or anything artificial. That way, North Mallow is a flavorful, feel-good treat that everyone can enjoy.
2016 - Local Farmers Markets
The beginning of North Mallow started with Mike making marshmallows for fun. He told us very few people know you can make your own marshmallows. Someone learned of his endeavor and asked if he would be interested in catering an event with smores. Soon after they started a catering business . Throughout their events they were constantly asked where their marshmallows could be purchased. Mike never thought about selling their creation, just figured it would be a side gig that he enjoyed. 2016 Mike started attending local farmers markets with the intent to sell his product.
2017 - 1st Stores
Mike told us he had interest from a few local stores about selling his product. He was told if he can get the packaging right for retail, he will get an opportunity to have his product on the shelves. Three stores brought on North Mallow in 2017.
2018 - Super Bowl
Mike told us this was a crazy year. The Super Bowl was held in Minnesota this year. Catering had started to pick up some steam and Mike was hoping to have a ton of events during the week of the Super Bowl. A few months out, he had only secured one event. He was hoping it would be a big thing to boom their business.
North Mallow ended up doing 18 events in 4 days. Mike told us he did events for Justin Timberlake and Terry Bradshaw in addition to working the actual Super Bowl Game at US Bank Stadium, operating two suites for 3,000 people total.
He shared with us the craziest moment for him was having a National Guard Escort into the stadium!
2019 - Catering, Retail, & Health
The non-stop events over those four days helped catapult North Mallow with some real momentum. Demand was becoming a real driver for the company at this point. This year they grew to around 150 catering events while also being in almost 500 stores. While the growth felt incredible, Mike was worried because they didn't have the money or financing to sustain it.
He told us there were many contributing factors to the retail side struggling. First he admitted his lack of knowledge when it came to the CPG industry as a whole. Also, the difficulties working with a co-manufacturer. He told us about a debacle they experienced where the one they partnered with weren't making the product correctly. He had to put an emergency call into a friend with a kitchen and ask his employees to come back and make marshmallows to ensure the product was created correctly. Immediately Mike made the decision to bring the manufacturing back in-house to preserve the integrity of the product. Mike shared with us that the company made a lot of money from catering but lost a lot of money from CPG. He told us he almost considered shutting down their website and ending the CPG side because the catering business was going so well.
Towards the end of 2019, Mike ended up in the hospital with a stress ulcer. It was at this time Mike did some introspection and remembered why they started North Mallow..."Ignite Joy", the motto of the company. Mike said he learned things the hard way, both in business and personally with his health scare. But fortunately Mike got everything back on track and North Mallow was heading into 2020 with real optimism. After nearly 150 catering events in 2019, Mike told us they had 230-240 booked.
Partner with KLS
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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!
2020 the Pandemic hit.
North Mallow completed 4 catering events.
May 2020, Mike said they were close to shutting down. Collectively they had one last idea to see if they could salvage the company. Mike has a cousin who is a professional baker in Copenhagen who helped create a graham cracker recipe for North Mallow. With that, Mike began selling a smores kit. The company put it on the website and sold almost 200 in about 30 hours. The feedback and demand was great Mike told us. They got them all out that week and luckily it was a cool week weather wise so nothing melted!
The company spent the rest of the summer of 2020 learning how to ship smores kits around the country. The next year they developed a hot cocoa kit to provide more value to their consumers. Shortly after the company redesigned the packaging to have their branding showing on both products. This provided some real traction for North Mallow.
2022, they were hoping catering would pick back up, but the hybrid office scheduling was limiting that. But then something interesting happened, those corporate clients began reaching out wanting to buy kits to send to their employees working from home. As Mike shared, "Corporate gifting was never on my radar and then suddenly it hit me in the face. I thought why aren't we doing this and realized this could be huge for us."
With that realization coupled with the demand for the kits, the company dove into corporate gifting. At this time the kits were not able to be customized. Also customers were saying we love your smores kits, but we are missing the fire. Eventually they created their Travel Campfire, which has a wood fire-starter in food grade soy wax. So now you can bring the Travel Campfire anywhere to roast marshmallows and make s'mores with their s'mores kit. Mike told us, "With the Pandemic corporate gifting really exploded. But we found you can only have so many yeti mugs, or tumblers, or hats. it was the same thing being given over and over. We bring the ability to provide this really cool and unique gift." North Mallow is selling the experience...Ignite Joy.
Vulnerability to focus on Mental Health
Mike told us one of the proudest moments for him has been his ability to grow professionally and personally. He said he is not one to celebrate the wins very often, but he has been making a conscious effort to do that lately. Mike talked about learning about imposter syndrome and making sure not to get caught up in other businesses and try to compare to your own. He told us how he used his stint in the hospital to reframe his outlook, "I reconfigured how I look at my business and what brings me joy. Then I remember I get to make and sell smores for a living." (Said with a big smile)
He told us something he has done that has helped his development is joining the EO (Entrepreneurs organization) where he has had the ability to talk about fear there. Speaking with likeminded individuals has given Mike an outlet to open up and be vulnerable, something he admittedly struggled for many years. He shared that being open and talking about your doubts and struggles matters so much.
Recently Mike took the company to the St. Paul Saints game (Minnesota Twin's AAA affiliate club) on Smores Day! He got to throw out the first pitch, relax, enjoy and have fun with his entire team. But most importantly he got to celebrate a win. The little moments Mike is trying to make a more common occurrence to enjoy with his team, his family, and himself. He told us, "Getting to bring joy to a lot of people is so incredible. We get emails and pictures of families enjoying their smores around the bonfire saying our product made their cabin weekend. Knowing that we are the reason for making their weekend, to bring such joy with our experience, it is really special."
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Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with North Mallow feature #58
*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!
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.
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.
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 for 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.