Tod Eckhouse pours a bucket of fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers into a giant mixing machine and throws the switch. The loud noise of the machine echoes through the large commercial kitchen where he prepares his delicious, fresh, natural, salsa.
"There's no other salsa that's any fresher or any better on the market," says Eckhouse, a former real estate developer whose career took a dramatic turn with the economic downturn.
"When I first started into this, people would say, 'what got you into the salsa business?' And I would say, 'real estate development," he laughs.
WHERE'S MY STIMULUS?
Eckouse was 62 and on the verge of making a big real estate deal in 2008 when the bottom dropped out. He lost the deal, and there weren't any other prospects out there.
"I decided to create my own stimulus package," he says.
For years, friends had praised the delicious, homemade salsa he brought to parties. So, with real estate dried up, Eckhouse reinvented himself as a professional salsa maker, and started his own salsa company.
At first he prepared the salsa in his kitchen and sold it at local natural food stores. Then, local restaurants like Crabby Bills and Louis Pappas' began serving his mango and black bean salsas.
It looked like he was picking up steam, but then came bad news: His wife, Louise, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to undergo a double mastectomy.
"She never stopped. She kept helping with the business through the whole process, even when she wasn't feeling well," says Eckhouse.
Louise admits that recent years have been tough.
"But, we have grown closer through this," she says. "I mean anyone can do it, you just have to persevere, and that's what we've been doing."
EAT MORE SALSA
Since the 2009 start of his salsa business, called Spring Bayou Foods, Eckhouse has moved production from the kitchen in his home to a large, commercial kitchen. He's gone from making 50 pounds of salsa a week to a thousand pounds.
He's currently negotiating with a distributor for wider distribution, and looking for investors to grow the company. He credits God, luck and hard work for his success.
"I'm going to get rich at it, and I'm going to help other people with their aspirations of starting their own business," he says.
You can find more information on Tod's salsa at www.todsalsa.com
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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