Gourmet popcorn is fast becoming the next big thing for foodies across the country. In an increasingly crowded space, Seattle-based POP! Gourmet Popcorn has managed to stand out among its peers. “If you join the club, you’re just one of the boys,” said David Israel, founder and CEO. “So, you want to be the chairman of that club or start a new club, which I think we did.”
Israel founded POP! Gourmet Popcorn in 2010. His original idea was to create a chain of retail stores that mixed popcorn with other sweet and savory flavors, but he quickly moved to a wholesale model. All along, Israel maintained his commitment to sourcing all-natural, gluten-free, high-quality ingredients for his products. “We go through so much pain to source the perfect ingredient,” said Sachin Ajith, vice president of project development. “That passion, that love, that magic is in our product.”
The company’s growth has been as explosive as kernels in hot oil. Today, the company produces 30 flavors of popcorn at its plant in Kent, Washington. It outgrew two smaller plants in Renton, Wash., in a period of months. POP!’s success has been chronicled in mass media coverage. In the February 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah Winfrey declared POP!’s White Truffle Bliss flavor one of her “favorite things.” Another flavor, Rogue Blue Cheese, recently won gold at a major snack food awards event.
Throughout this period of tremendous growth, Bank of America has been by Israel’s side. The owner first approached the bank because of its reach, but has since come to appreciate the relationship for much more. “It was mind-blowing support,” said Israel. “It’s a great feeling to know that someone cares about you within a company this size.”
Client Manager Michael Brunelle provides POP! with a full suite of banking products and services. “I think we have a model that’s so different from what everybody else has,” he said. “We’re very proactive in that, when we’re looking at a relationship, we’re trying to anticipate where they’re going as a company. We’re seeing a lot of clients every single week and we’re helping people’s dreams become a reality.”
Israel appreciates the personal attention his company continues to receive from Bank of America. As Brunelle explains it, he stops by POP! for reasons other than his belief in the business. “It’s just the popcorn,” he jokes. “That’s it. I come by for the popcorn. That’s all.”