August 7, 2014
Blame it on Grandma.
“My grandmother had a snack mix she called Gravel,” relates Daren Rexroad (but please call him “Rex”), “made of peanuts, pretzels, cereal and white chocolate.” Using her recipe, Rex started experimenting, substituting dark chocolate there, milk chocolate here. Soon he had several snack mixes people were urging him to start selling.
But what to call the lineup?
Working as an assistant town clerk in Jericho, Vermont, Rex heard the town’s road crew foreman’s voice come over the CB: “The asphalt’s peeling over here, we’re gonna’ need a load of gravel over there, and the mud is pretty bad … ,” the foreman said.
And so Asphalt and Mud joined Gravel, and Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch line was born. There are now eight regular flavors, including Backfill and Pothole, all which go for $7 a bag. Every flavor – including the seasonal Mistletow (featuring a tow truck) and Dead End (for Halloween) – have a road theme.
“We used to have a roller on our Asphalt label and a dump truck for Mud, but it got complicated, so now we just feature a loader on the label of all of our regular mixes,” say Rex, who has never worked in construction. As from the start, he’s open to experimentation. “I’d love to approach Caterpillar and use a D11 for a Halloween-themed ScareDCat mix,” he adds with a laugh.
With the company growing gradually from a 2006 start, two years ago Rex and wife Annette decided to literally take their marketing on the road. Selling their house, they bought a 36-foot 5th-wheel RV, packed up their three boys (who are “road schooled”) and have toured the country, trying to stir up interest among distributors and retailers in their gluten-free, all-natural products. Production is handled back in Vermont, where three employees hand-batch supplies.
His product has gotten notice from construction companies and associations. Asphalt paver Lakeside Industries with offices in Washington and Oregon bought several boxes of Asphalt, asking Rex to attach a company marketing message to the back of the bag, a feature the company actively markets. Other clients have included the Asphalt Institute, Associated General Contractors of Vermont and RD Johnson Excavating in Lawrence, Kansas.
“It’s rare when we don’t get someone who doesn’t giggle when we talk about our mix names,” Rex says. “It works to get a message across and put a smile on their face.”