The owner of a made-in-Nevada product was recipient of the Made in Nevada Woman of the Year award at the Women's Expo in Reno on March 24.
Carson Valley resident and owner of Panchita's Killer Salsa Fran Pritchard won as the Made in Nevada's nominee at the U.S. Small Business Administration's Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs annual event.
Made in Nevada is an association of business, government and agricultural organizations working to develop awareness and to promote products manufactured in Nevada.
Pritchard started her business 14 years ago after discovering other people enjoyed her home-made salsa as much as she and her family did.
Her small factory in Gardnerville produces fresh and jarred salsas sold in area grocery stores, South Lake Tahoe casinos, Truckee restaurants, as well as stores in restaurants in Carson City, Yerington and Grass Valley.
Pritchard has learned other skills over the years: how to do her own sales, marketing and delivery. She has since learned what's needed to pass an inspection by the health department.
Pritchard said the health officer had to ask a lot of questions during her first inspection.
"One of the questions was if the product was going to live up to its name," she said. "He said, 'With a name like Killer Salsa, we'd better hope not.'"
Pritchard makes the regular delivery to Grass Valley herself in a 13-hour day and does her own marketing.
"You have to be realistic," she said. "No one cares as much about your product as you do."
As the winner of the Nevada Woman of the Year award, Pritchard will be eligible for the national small business award in 2008. She said the award will mean good things for business.
"Any good publicity, knock on wood, is good," she said. "This is a local company and it's good to get the word out. People say, 'I buy Killer Salsa all the time but I didn't know it was made in Nevada.'"
Pritchard said part of the reason for being recognized by Made in Nevada as a successful businesswoman is because she's stubborn.
"Don't tell me 'no' - it's not part of my vocabulary," she said.
She said her products have been doing well at Wal-mart for a year, but it took a year and a half to get the attention of management to get Killer Salsa on the shelves.
Pritchard promotes her own products at craft fairs, chili cook-offs and tastings in stores. She regularly attends the Genoa Candy Dance and will go to the Carson Valley Inn chili cook-off this month.
Killer Salsas contain no preservatives and come in different flavors in both refrigerated fresh and shelf jars.
"Stuff made today will be delivered tomorrow," Pritchard said. "One taste is worth a thousand words.
"My goal is to get the jarred stuff in Albertson's and Safeway. We're in every other store. If I'm trying a new product, I do it in Scolari's first - they've always been good to me."
Pritchard enjoys finding new ways to use her salsa.
"We eat it just about every day," she said. "It's nice to see that the employees here have chips and salsa on their breaks.
"This has been a great adventure. My boyfriend says to retire but what will I do with myself?" she said. "This is a challenge."
For more information about Panchita's Killer Salsa at www.killersalsa.com.