Magic Straws slurp up growth, adds new Dippin' Dots products
Dippin' Dots Magic Milk Straws
Magic Straws, a three-year-old Bloomington-based maker of drinking straws that flavor milk, has launched two new products in conjunction with the Dippin' Dots brand, expanding on its wildly successful initial products.
Last year the company did more than $20 million in sales, twice its volume in 2011, according to Paul Hensen, one of the three principals at the company.
The company's first roll out, which started in 2010, was marketed under the brand "Got Milk?" Those straws come in 11 flavors, including Banana Cream, Chocolate, Vanilla Milkshake, Chocolate Candy Cane, Cinnamon Roll, and Strawberry.
Now Magic Straws has launched s'mores and birthday cake flavors under the Dippin' Dots brand.
They don't contain high fructose corn syrup, lactose, fat, cholesterol, preservatives, gluten or other allergens and have only 17 calories, 0 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar per serving
The straws are sold at Walmart, Target, Safeway and Kroger grocery stores nationwide. They're also available in convenience stores such as Holiday in the Twin Cities.
Hensen said the company has not had any outside investors so far, but that might change soon in order to help launch some other products. The company outsources manufacturing to a company in Europe, but it's making plans to move at least some of its manufacturing to the U.S.
"We've got some new technology, and once that's done we'll be looking at potentially partnering up with a financial company to do some larger marketing and larger expansion of programs," Hensen said.
Hensen said he got the idea for magic straws in about 2004 when he saw the technology demonstrated at a trade show overseas. He and his partners, Chief Financial Officer Jon Tollefson and Vice President of Sales Jeff Willox acquired the intellectual property and decided to bring the products to market.
The trio have been distributors of other company's products before, with an emphasis on products for kids. They're also working on a line of new natural lip balms called Affordable Naturals that sold out of a test run in about 6,000 Wallgreen's stores last year.
Tollefson and Willox used to own a Beanie Babies distributor when the toys were hot. Hensen started his first company in 1998 when he developed a glow-in-the-dark blanket for kids. The trio got to know each other when they all sold precious metals together early in their careers.
For now the company's focus is to build the Magic Straw's business. Hensen was in Las Vegas this week at an international product licensing convention, drumming up future partnerships.
"We've got a five year plan for Magic Straws, and we've got a big plan for next year. I'm out here putting some of those deals together now," Hensen said.