It’s been quite a year for 18-year-old Henry Miller, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
A little over a year ago Miller was on the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank,” pitching his company Henry’s Humdingers to investors. The company he founded sells raw honey combined with a variety of spices in jars with fun names like Grumpy Grampa and Diabolical Dad. In the episode, Miller was seen accepting $300,000 from two investors for 75 percent of the company, but Miller and the investors later decided to nix the deal in order to keep it as a family business.
While ultimately turning down the offer, being on the episode has done wonders for the business, which started out on the family farm in Deming. The company is introducing new flavors called Hanky Panky (which has vanilla and nutmeg) and Nudie Cutie (straight raw honey). The roll-out will be done on the television channel QVC.
Miller will be on the QVC show called “Food Fest” with host Jill Bauer. It’s scheduled to run at noon Monday, June 22. The segment also will stream online and be available on the QVC website after the show has aired.
Miller just graduated from high school in Ventura, Calif., and plans to attend Washington State University, majoring in economics with a minor in entrepreneurship. This summer he plans to focus on his company, which has its production facility in Burlington. Much of the work at the production facility is being run by his mom, Denise. The company has four employees.
“It has been very difficult juggling school and the business at the same time, which is why a lot of my summer will be dedicated towards helping the business grow,” Henry Miller said.
Since the airing of the “Shark Tank” episode in March 2014, sales have risen about 300 percent, Henry Miller said. Henry’s Humdingers products have landed in a variety of grocery store chains, including Haggen and Meijer. They soon be going into Akin’s and Chamberlin’s natural food stores. Miller also has had discussions with Target.
The company’s growth has reached a point where it can no longer get its honey from the Deming farm, but Miller said they buy raw honey from Washington state beekeepers. At this point Miller said Henry’s Humdingers is poised for the next stage in growth: Recently the company has received inquiries from companies in the food service industry, including a yogurt chain that is interested in the product as a possible topping option.
“I think we’re on the tipping point of getting huge,” he said.
The aftermath of being on “Shark Tank”also has been an interesting transition for Miller. He’s often recognized, particularly in this region, and people will ask to take a photo with him or have him sign a jar they’ve purchased. He’s also had celebrities enjoying his product, including restauranteur/television personality Fabio Viviani.
“‘Shark Tank’ has opened so many doors for us. I am so grateful to have been on that show. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving — every time it airs on CNBC, I get a great bump in business as more and more people discover my products,” Miller said.
While he didn’t close the deal with the sharks, he still has contact with the show. Mark Cuban, who initially wanted to buy 75 percent of the company with Robert Herjavec, offered to be one of Miller’s references in his college application. Cuban’s assistants also check in from time to time to see how the company is doing, Miller said.
Even with the national attention, Miller said it’s the local support that’s made a big impact, whether it’s from Whatcom and Skagit county residents ordering through the website or buying jars at the local Haggen stores.
“I really appreciate all the local support,” he said.
Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.