The roots for one of the Midpeninsula’s most popular granola brands and a growing local business can be traced back to when Brian Tetrud, the CEO of Ladera Foods, was a kid growing up in the community of Ladera.
His health-conscious mother, Karen Butterfield, an internist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, decided to create her own granola recipe after a local brand raised its prices. After some experimentation, Butterfield arrived at a concoction that quickly became popular with family and friends, Tetrud said.
“It was clear we had a winner.”
He was in Washington, D.C.
Tetrud decided to give it a shot.
He spent about a year gathering feedback and learning how to build a food business. He talked to Kevin Bianchini, owner of Bianchini’s Market in Ladera, to figure out how to package the product and sought guidance from the founders of other granola companies, including southern California-based Bear Naked.
However, to expand the business, he had to enlist the help of people in the community, he said. He’s kept things local, hiring fellow M-A grads Dylan Torres as director of sales and John Eberli as marketing manager and social media guru.
The business has evolved and now generates revenue from three sources: retail, catering and co-packing (packaging other companies’ products). On the retail front, Ladera Foods’ granola is sold in 1,500 stores and through Amazon.
However, retaining talent has been a challenge due to competition in the job market.
Over the years, the company has expanded to sell three types of granola: the original nine-ingredient recipe, which contains cinnamon and cardamom; cocoa almond, which Tetrud describes as a healthful version of “Cocoa Puffs”; and a nut-free vanilla-quinoa granola, which contains se instead of nuts for protein.
Despite the variations, Tetrud said “it’s the same product we grew up with.”
“It’s just made of stuff you’d find in your pantry,” he said. “That is something we’ve stuck to our guns about.
Eberli, 28, says that granola is surprisingly versatile. Tasked with marketing a crunchy snack most people associate with breakfast or camping, he said he tries to attract customers who don’t already eat it.
“Don’t think about it as a cereal,” he said. Instead, he suggests, think about it as a topping — add it to yogurt, salads, fruit or oatmeal, or as a supplement for a baking project.
For recipes and serving suggestions, see Ladera Foods’ Instagram at @laderafoods.