St. Charles hot sauce business owners win 'Small Business Person of the Year' award

  • Chris and Mary Ginder, owners of Gindo's Spice of Life in St. Charles, each won awards recently from the Small Business Association.

    Chris and Mary Ginder, owners of Gindo's Spice of Life in St. Charles, each won awards recently from the Small Business Association. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network

  • Chris Ginder makes a new batch of hot sauce in the kitchen of the Gindo's Spice of Life St. Charles headquarters. Gindo's owners Chris and Mary Ginder each won awards recently from the Small Business Association.

    Chris Ginder makes a new batch of hot sauce in the kitchen of the Gindo's Spice of Life St. Charles headquarters. Gindo's owners Chris and Mary Ginder each won awards recently from the Small Business Association. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network

 
 
Updated 5/16/2022 1:25 PM

Chris and Mary Ginder's company Gindo's Spice of Life in St. Charles creates hot sauces. But for those who think it's all about the heat, they want people to know that it's so much more.

"Hot sauce doesn't have to be an afterthought or a condiment that you drip on your food to mask a mediocre dish or to burn your senses useless," the Ginders state on their website. "Our sauces are designed to inspire creativity in the kitchen and enhance food by adding flavor, aroma, color, texture and even nutrients."

 

The Ginders, who are Batavia residents, recently were honored with the 2022 U.S. Small Business Administration's Illinois Person of the Year Award.

Winners from each of the nation's 50 states were recognized on May 5 during the National Small Business Week Virtual Summit's Awards Ceremony.

This year's Small Business Week theme, "Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship," highlights the resilience, ingenuity and creativity of these award winners who, like millions of small businesses, have navigated challenges from the pandemic and contributed to our nation's economic comeback, according to a news release from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"The Ginder's story is one of creativity, smart business sense, diligence and community spirit," said Batavia Chamber Communications and Membership Coordinator Shirley Mott, who nominated the couple for the award. "Congratulations to a fine business expertly owned and managed by this dynamic husband-wife team."

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Ideas for Gindo's hot sauces come from everywhere, Chris Ginder said. It might be from a meal they enjoy at a restaurant or discover at a farmers market or an introduction to a new pepper from Peru.

"I stay open to things," he said. "I take an idea and bring it into my kitchen."

The Ginders like to source the ingredients for their products from other local businesses.

The couple enjoys collaboration with other local businesses, including Mighty Greens Farm and Garlic Breath Farm in Elburn, Gordon Heat in Oswego, Muirhead Farms in Plato Center, and Two Beekeepers in DuPage and Kane counties.

The Ginders began their business 14 years ago in California before moving to Batavia in 2015.

The Ginders were on the brink of receiving funding to build out their own manufacturing facility in 2020 when the pandemic hit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Funding for the facility disappeared and restaurants, which made up a significant portion of their revenue, closed.

"After a quick moment of panic, we decided what we needed to do was to make sure that people didn't forget us," Mary Ginder said. "We built up our social media presence and began to focus more on our online marketing. We also started offering free local delivery within 20 miles in the Tri-City area."

Through the Illinois Small Business Development Center, they obtained disaster relief funding and continued to grow their collaborations, online business, and farmers markets portion of their business. By December 2020, they had updated their business plan and were showing sustained revenue.

They were able to secure a loan through the Small Business Administration, which helped them complete their new manufacturing facility and St. Charles storefront last spring at 2020 W. Main St., Suite P.

Chris Ginder said that having his own kitchen, rather than accessing rental kitchens, has made a big difference in having more control over the production process. They are able to have more transparency regarding the process, and having everything on-site makes it easier and more efficient.

St. Charles has granted the business a special liquor license, giving the Ginders more freedom to host tastings in the new facility.

Gindo's recently introduced a new promotion in which customers who visit the store and make a purchase during May will be entered into a drawing to win a tasting for up to 12 people. The winner will be announced on June 1 on Facebook.

"Every week we develop a new flavor," Chris Ginder said. I've been doing that for five years and haven't run out of ideas yet. I always try to set the trends. I like to try new fun things that no one else has thought of."

Gindo's hot sauces are available at retail stores, farmers markets and restaurants, where their products are used as ingredients in the meals served. Visit Gindos.com for information on where to find their products.

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