SCC leads investment group in local food company

When ad agencies acquire new companies, these new divisions  provide related services that are directly related to and feed into the advertising business, such as research, digital, design or PR companies.  Not so with Shafer Condon Carter. 

The independently-owned, entrepreneurial agency formed a group of investors – including 42nd Alderman Brendan Reilly – to buy the majority interest in Chicago-headquartered Uncle Dougie’s.

The existing brand consists of 100% natural, high quality sauces and marinades that have been around grocery stores and restaurants for 20 years.

That SCC is getting into the ownership and marketing of foods isn’t as big stretch as you might think.  The agency’s client roster consists of largely of food and beverage companies: including Armour-Eckrich, Beam Global Spirits, Campbell Soup Co., ConAgra Foods, Farmland Foods, Land O’Lakes, National Pork Board and New Chapter Organics.

Needless to say, SCC will be the agency for the Uncle Dougie brand.

Tim Condon, SCC’s CEO, says the investors aren’t starting from scratch this time, as they did in 2005 when they launched their own West Loop Beverage company.  Three years later, their Hogwash Juice Drinks brand was posting impressive sales results and in 2010 they sold the brand to Wis-Pak, Inc., a major Pepsi bottler.

Uncle Dougie’s an established brand

This time around, says Condon, “We’re partnering with the guys who started the company and already have incredible products on the shelf. Uncle Dougie’s is a brand ripe with key distributor relationships and untapped retail opportunities, an expanding online business, and a growing, passionate, loyalist following. 

“Our research shows that people either haven’t heard of the brand, or think it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted.  That has all the makings of a great business case history,” he says.

Uncle Dougie founder Doug TomekUncle Dougie’s started in 1989 with a marinade recipe developed by Doug Tomek (a.k.a. Uncle Dougie) for homemade spicy chicken wings. 

“Unlike Buffalo-style wings, which require deep-frying, wings made with Uncle Dougie’s Wing Marinade can either be baked in the oven or grilled, so they’re much lower in fat and perfect for entertaining or sports-watching at home,” Condon notes.

After Uncle Dougie appearances on then WLUP-radio with hosts Kevin Matthews, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier in the early ‘90s, the product gained a cult-like grassroots following that has stuck with the brand.

Products preferred by city’s best steak houses

Uncle Dougie’s line includes Barbecue Sauces, Cayenne Pepper Sauces and Rubs, which are secretly used by many of Chicago’s high profile steak and rib houses, and Bloody Mary Mix, which is featured on the menus of Café Ba Ba Reeba, Mon Ami Gabi and other Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises properties.

Speaking like the dedicated Chicago booster he is, Ald. Reilly says, “I’d like nothing more than to see this business flourish and become a vibrant part of the Chicago business community.  Given SCC’s track record and Uncle Dougie’s taste and quality, I think it has the potential to be a strong contributor to the city of Chicago.”

Uncle Dougie’s is currently on the shelves at locally to Jewel, Whole Foods, Treasure Island, Caputo’s, Sunset Foods, Woodman’s and a number of independent grocers, meat markets and specialty retailers across the country.