Industry Professional Spotlight: Roger and Erin Kay

 

Husband and wife team, Roger, and Erin Kay, are longtime members of the smoke and vapor industry. Their history in the industry is long and chalked full of amazing experience. Smoke & Vape Business Solutions recently spent a little time with Roger Kay to discuss his career, time at HQ Magazine, experience in the smoke shop industry, and the story of how his wife Erin came to start Tasty Puff, LLC. Tasty Puff, LLC has been manufacturing quality flavoring products since 1999. They provide goods and services to distributors, wholesale companies, manufacturers, retail stores, and retail consumers. All Tasty Puff products are made with pride in the USA and have been tested and manufactured to provide a top-quality product for consumers. The people behind Tasty Puff work hard to provide excellent customer service and keep their business relationships a priority in day-to-day business proceedings.

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At the time Tasty Puff got started, Roger Kay was working in retail. He had a few locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico called The Zone. In The Zone, Roger was selling flavored papers and other flavored products, and at the time many of the flavors just weren’t very good or accurate, and customers would complain that they didn’t taste like what was advertised on the package. One day when Roger and his wife Erin were talking, they thought it would be kind of neat if they could come up with something that would allow people to just add their own flavor drop on to anything. Whether it was added to a rolled cigarette, right into water pipe water, or even into a pipe or bowl – the flavor needed to be spot on and it needed to be high quality.

“We sat on the idea for a bit and then finally started the development process. It took us about three years to develop a flavor drop that was safe to smoke and would absorb into what it was added to. We hired chemists and other professionals to help us with overall development and concept of the company. After a few years, we had created 6 flavors that worked well, tasted great, and offered a lot of flavor. In 1999, once we had our flavors ready to go, we began to sell,” explained Roger.

At the beginning, Erin handled every aspect of the business from a spare bedroom in the couple’s house. While Roger was busy running his retail locations and working on his magazines, Erin took everything over when it came to Tasty Puff. She filled bottles at the kitchen table and organized all the flavors on shelves in the spare room. About a year later, Erin had grown the business so quickly that she got to a point where she needed more space. She then found a small warehouse that worked great for her for a few years, but she quickly outgrew that as well. She moved to a new warehouse that offered more space and room for the company to grow, allowed Erin to sell by the bottle and by the gallon in bulk, until just a few years ago when the company required more space yet again and they moved to a new location. The flavors that are developed by Erin and Tasty Puff have a wide range of uses inside and outside of the smoke and vapor industry and as the product line grew, Erin needed more space. The current facility is 15,000 sq ft and offers just enough room for the ever-growing business.

“In the most recent years, when I got more involved, Erin and I expanded Tasty Puff’s product line to include our line of e-liquid and started supplying the nicotine and raw ingredients to other manufacturers. We sell to all sorts of manufacturers that range anywhere from beverages or food, to flavored cigars or cigarettes, and even herbal blends as well. Selling bulk to manufacturers really took off and was roughly 80% of the business for many years, and still is today. We sell flavoring in bulk as well as ingredients to e-liquid manufacturers, cigar manufacturers, cigarette manufactures, and others as well. We pay close attention to our ingredients. The flavoring is 100% edible, food grade, and the e-juice contains simple FDA approved ingredients including vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and natural and artificial flavoring. Erin is extremely health and environmentally conscious, and she is always making sure we aren’t putting out anything that could potentially be harmful to our customers,” said Roger.

As Tasty Puff grew bigger and bigger each year, Roger left the magazine business and sold his retail locations so that he could focus more of his time on helping Erin and they brought on about 10 new employees. Erin’s hard work, drive, and dedication to the business set Tasty Puff up to be successful from day one. In addition to that, Roger’s long history in the industry as a retailer gave him valuable information about what customers really want when it comes to products, packaging, and customer service. The husband-and-wife duo is the perfect match for Tasty Puff.

“We’ve been in this industry for a long time and we’ve made a lot of friends. We both love having the ability to be creative and come up with new products – it’s really fun for us. Being part of an industry that is so open minded has been really great. We try to be as helpful as we can to our friends in the industry and we are not at all concerned about competition. We are more than willing to help anybody that needs it when it comes to formulating and developing products. We have our own e-liquid, but we also sell a lot of our raw ingredients to our competitors as well. It’s a really cool industry to be a part of,” explains Roger.

Although the industry can be frustrating at times, that doesn’t stop Roger and Erin.

“You just have to keep pushing forward when times are tough. It can get a little discouraging from time to time when it feels like you are constantly looking down the barrel of the FDA’s gun and you don’t know what way things are going to go, but we never let that get us down. We focus on running a compliant, responsible business every day and things always work out in the end – it just takes a lot of hard work and you can’t give up. We have always had a burning desire to succeed and make this industry better,” said Roger.

Since Roger’s start in the industry with HQ Magazine and The Zone, he’s always been one to turn heads, open minds, and make a difference. His work at HQ helped to change the dynamic of the entire industry and Erin’s work with Tasty Puff continues make a positive impact on the industry each day.

“You have to remember to stay open minded every day. Don’t let yourself get stuck inside of a box and stay ambitious. My goal is to create companies that will live on long after I am gone and continue to have a positive impact on the industry and the people in it,” said Roger. SVBS

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