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Tamuning, Guam 96913
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Gourmet Guam opens doors

By Ken Beckham,

SBJA Guam SBDC Counselor

 Gourmet Guam, Inc. has begun operations on Guam and is changing the way people think about enjoying popcorn. Although many companies offer a ‘bag of popcorn,’ Gourmet Guam is committed to bringing the highest standard of product, package, and enjoyment with a simple food. The company has set a high standard for its operations – from selection of the raw materials to the packaging and the labels. Each item is carefully chosen for its contribution into the enjoyment of the popcorn by the consumer. Created by Joann Malaca, it has been a year-long labor of love and dedication to reach this ‘opening.’ It began on a flight from Guam to Canada to visit her grandchildren where she saw an ad on ‘Starting your own Business.’ She had already been searching for a business opportunity to begin and this article was perfectly placed to catch her attention. Coincidently, there was a “trade show” occurring during her visit to Canada. After three months of researching the idea that developed at the trade show and drawing from her experience in making caramel popcorn in the early 90s for Christmas presents – an effort to differentiate her gift from commercial gifts – Joann realized the potential for success and selected her choice of industry – a gourmet popcorn. But not just any popcorn – a carefully chosen gourmet popping corn combined with the highest quality ancillary products. Having a personal interest in cooking and especially baking, this opportunity gave her the natural entre into creating her company – Gourmet Guam, Inc. Joann (and her husband of 32 years, John) were both born and raised on Guam. She has over 15 years combined experience working in accounting and business management. With two children now grown (and 3 grand-daughters) and after attending the GCC Culinary Arts Program as well as fulfilling her life-longdream of earning her MBA from the University of Phoenix – at an age where most peopledismiss the idea of going back to school – Joann has found herself ready to venture into a business of her own – one that she is passionate about. The creation of Gourmet Guam has taken one full year from that beginning concept to actually opening of the doors on her production center.

 The facility had their soft opening on January 9th with the preparation and delivery of the first large order. Joann noted “We are very pleased with the reception of the product by those who have found it in these beginning weeks.” One of the items requiring a great amount of time was the selection of the package for the popcorn – the bag. Although many ‘bagging’ options are used by other general popcorn makers, Gourmet Guam wanted a ‘special’ package to convey the quality inside this bag is no ordinary popcorn. And then, to compliment the package, Joann secured the help of a local graphic artist – Derek Mandell – to design the custom logo and label to represent the gourmet theme of the package. Being islanders deeply-rooted in Guam and who have an affinity for island culture and values, a latte stone was incorporated into the background of the logo along with a plumeria that symbolizes the beauty of the multicultural heritages that make up our communities. We are loyal to our island and, as our label says: “Island Pride, Made in Guam.” They are awaiting the completion of the process to acquire the Guam Product Seal.

It is intended to be a truly gourmet product from start to finish. It does not cost much more – but one can see that it is noticeably different. Gourmet Guam was just opening the doors when they were asked to produce a ‘large’ custom order. By working long hours they were able to complete the order in three days to the delight of the client. Such attention to individual requirements is a part of how Gourmet Guam will be managed. The product is to be a truly ‘gourmet’ product from start to finish. With attention to details at every stage of the business, the result is that the taste and enjoyment is noticeably different. Currently there are three flavors: Candy Apple Yum (a flavor reminiscent of eating a candied apple on a stick), Itsa Fruiti Fiesta (multiple vibrant colors bursting with fruit flavors complemented with each color corresponding to like fruits such as yellow for lemon flavor) and, Say Cheese (an unexpected delicious combination of caramel and cheese that is a definite favorite for cheese-lovers). The flavor names were purposely selected from common phrases and things that evoke feelings of fun, friends and family, and happy times. There are future plans to introduce additional flavors of gourmet popcorn. Joann attributes a huge part of Gourmet Guam’s success to her husband John. He has been very supportive in every step of the way. Many a nights, he can be found in the kitchen cooking family meals and doing laundry while Joann focuses on the business. He brings a wealth of mechanical and technical background to Gourmet Guam by overseeing and maintaining the company’s facilities and equipment but is quick to jump into other tasks when the need arises. Together, they are on a quest to maintain a high standard of quality and look forward to Gourmet Guam’s success. “Another major contributing factor to our company’s success has been working with Ken Beckham from the Small Business Development Center; he was very instrumental in keeping us grounded and guided us patiently to accomplish the tasks that needed to get done,” according to Joann. Ultimately, her hope is that other local entrepreneurs will be inspired to start their own business and create products of high caliber locally that will simultaneously give Guam more visibility and boost the island’s economy.

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