When he’s not pursing his photography and golf hobbies in his free time, longtime industry professional Dave Johnson, north central region manager for AP&G, is busy with his other creative outlet: crafting hot sauces.
Earlier this year, Johnson realized his dream to bring his first pest control industry hot sauce — “Exterminator” Gourmet Hot Sauce — to market.
The germ for the idea to create his own hot sauces came to Johnson seven years ago while he was at a restaurant and began scribbling notes on a napkin. Next up was seven years of tinkering with a variety of ingredients, styles and heat levels to perfect his offering. The main ingredients listed on the label are chili peppers and apple cider vinegar — staples of “Louisiana style” hot sauces.Johnson describes Exterminator Gourmet Hot Sauce as a medium hot, full flavor sauce with what he believes to be a winning flavor. “It’s the perfect hot sauce for those occasions when you’re faced with bland-infested food,” he said.
Exterminator GHS is the first of three hot sauces Johnson is dedicating to the men and women of the pest management industry. “I personally have been in the pest management industry since 1981 and I have great respect for what our industry does,” he said. “I truly believe that it is one of the most honorable service professions. Every day pest management professionals are called on to provide peace of mind and protection for families, homes and businesses, and to protect the food we eat from an array of pests that would otherwise spoil or damage it.”
Johnson said his aim was to utilize only top-quality food ingredients along with a premium label and package components so that “companies could easily utilize Exterminator GHS as a marketing tool or as a welcome/thank you gift for their customers or employees.”
To reach the general public, as with many goods, packaging and presentation are key. Johnson and his team created a catchy label featuring a chef (Louie) with a backpack sprayer in tow. “We wanted to have some fun with the label and come up with something that would draw hot sauce label enthusiasts and deliver the quality as well,” he said.
Early returns on the Exterminator GHS are very positive. Nisus Area Manager Harry Bryan, who is an accomplished barbecuer, said: “I’ve been a cook for more than 30 years and have cooked competitively on the BBQ circuit for the past 15 years. I’m picky about ingredients....and Exterminator Gourmet Hot Sauce has the right stuff. There’s a smooth texture and the ‘color’ is spot-on! The heat will tickle you behind your right ear, so much that it’d make you giggle and swig some more.”
Exterminator Gourmet Hot Sauce information and marketing updates can be found via social media (Facebook page: J&K Specialty Foods). The products can be ordered from J&K Specialty Foods directly at www.jandkspecialtyfoods.com, or by calling 614/774-3536 (Ann).
What’s next for Johnson? The next product in the pest management group is “Exterminator 2” Gourmet Hot Sauce, which will bring a bolder heat element for those who take their “hot” sauce seriously, Johnson said. It’s scheduled for release in spring 2018. — Brad Harbison