Inside INdiana Business

Indiana companies chosen in Walmart Open Call

From left to right: Morgan Gramlich, associate merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart; Josh Pawlak, vice president of marketing for BW Fusion; Andrew Saal, president of Turf Titan Brands; and Chelsea Vargas, senior merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart. (Photo Provided/Turf Titan Brands)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Two Indiana-based businesses are among more than 330 from throughout the country chosen to sell their products on Walmart store shelves. Turf Titan Brands in Fort Wayne and BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery in Noblesville each received a “golden ticket” after pitching their products last week during Walmart’s ninth annual Open Call event. This year’s Open Call had more than 13,000 products registered with 1,110 businesses chosen as finalists to make pitches.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Turf Titan Brands President Andrew Saal said being chosen will help brand recognition for the young company.

“From a brand standpoint, I mean we’re so new; people just don’t even know who we are,” said Saal. “So, when you’re on a Walmart shelf – and we’re not sure how many stores we’re going to be in yet – that’s some pretty solid brand exposure for us.”

Turf Titan Brands was created from Biodyne USA and its premier distributor, BW Fusion, both of which are also based in Fort Wayne.

The company produces a line of lawn care products. Saal says the idea for Turf Titan came from the use of microbials, or beneficial bacterial, to clean up brownfields and other sites that need bioremediation.

Since its inception, Turf Titan has relied heavily on influencer marketing to get the word out about its products. Saal says the company’s pitch during the Open Call checked a lot of boxes for Walmart.

“They want to know that your products are made in the U.S., and with us, pretty much every component that we use in our products is made in the U.S.,” he said. “The other thing is they’re very big on sustainability, and a lot of our microbials actually help the soil, and if your isn’t doing good, it kind of brings life back to your soil. So, they liked that as well.”

He says the efforts by Turf Titan, BW Fusion and Biodyne to support local farmers also appealed to Walmart.

Saal says the company only pitched its Thatch Buster product, which is designed to convert organic waste into a food source that returns nutrients to the soil and grass. But now, the retail giant is looking at more.

“We presented that and mentioned a couple other products as we were going through that, and I think that tweaked their interest,” he said. “So, on Tuesday, they sent us an email and said, ‘Hey, we would like you to quote your entire line.’ So, right now, [we’re] getting all of that prepared so we can hopefully pick up more products in the full line.”

BeeFree Gluten-Free Bakery was founded in 2010 by Jennifer Wiese, who was looking for gluten-free and dairy-free treats for her autistic son. The company’s products, including the Warrior Mix that was selected by Walmart in the Open Call, is currently sold in more than 2,000 stores throughout the county, including Kroger, Target and Whole Foods locations.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick last July, Wiese attributed the company’s growth to individuals paying more attention to their diet.

“COVID was really a big instigator in that as well, too,” she said. “People were looking at how they were treating their body, what can they do to treat their body better with better foods they can eat, as well as how they’re caring for other people in their families.”

BeeFree is also focused on creating jobs in Noblesville for people on the autism spectrum.

(Pictured above, left to right) Morgan Gramlich, associate merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart; Josh Pawlak, vice president of marketing for BW Fusion; Andrew Saal, president of Turf Titan Brands; and Chelsea Vargas, senior merchant for lawn and garden at Walmart