505 Southwestern shows Colorado Pride

It’s another recognizable Denver area brand many consumers might not know is anchored at 5,280 feet even if its products are a part of their regular grocery list.

And, if and when Major League Baseball does play games this year, it’s also a brand many Colorado Rockies fans will be seeing more of at Coors Field thanks to an expanded partnership with the club.

505 Southwestern’s non-Denver roots are right in its name. The dips, sauces and more company — built around the venerated Hatch green chile –was born in the 505 area code when Albuquerque, N.M., restaurateur Roy Solomon decided to jar his popular green chiles in 1997. Company legend has that Solomon drove from Albuquerque to Denver to launch his 505 brand.

About a decade later, Solomon sold the company to private equity firm Creo Capital Partners and in 2015 Creo founder and 505 Southwestern executive chairman Rob Holland moved both companies to the 303 area code.

With its corporate headquarters now in Greenwood Village, 505 still does plenty of business in New Mexico including running 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility where its dips and sauces are made.

But Holland is proud that 505 and Creo are Colorado-headquartered food companies, something he notes is has become less common in recent years thanks to some big acquisitions and corporate moves.

Last week, Holland spoke with a Denver Post reporter about the increasingly visible 505 brand. The interview, originally scheduled to be an in-person sit down at 505’s Greenwood Village office focused on the new Rockies partnership instead became a phone interview covering a wide range of topics in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has put baseball season and so much more on hold. Here are highlights broken down by topic:

On 505 Southwestern’s growth: 

Holland: Through my firm (Creo Capital Partners), I have acquired about 20 different food companies. I acquired 505 from Roy Solomon in 2008 when it was a $2 million brand. Fast forward to today, and we’ve taken the brand and grown in the range of 20% for 12 consecutive years.

It’s the No. 1 jarred green chile brand in the United States. We’re sold in London. We’re trying to get the rest of the world to fall in love with green chile the way people in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona have.

What’s driving it? 

Holland: Millenials love spice. And it’s a clean product. Our flagship flame roasted green chile is just chiles, garlic salt and lime juice. There’s no sugar added. It’s all non G.M.O.(genetically modified organism.)

505 is one of the most expensive green chiles in the supermarket and we’re quite proud of it. We’re a premium brand. People buy our product because it’s really, really good.

What about your partnerships with sports teams (505 Southwestern now works with the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the  Jacksonville Jaguars, Colorado Rockies and others):

Holland: There’s a trend; whether it’s in an airport or even a mall, the goal seems to be to elevate the food offerings.

The same thing is happening in sports arenas. Sports teams want you to have a great experience whether or not the team wins and a lot of that is the food.

Our first partnership was with the Pepsi Center, actually, in 2017. The Pepsi Center used our brand with its nacho offerings and saw a double-digit increase in nacho sales with the 505 brand attached to it.

Green chile kind of goes with all things sports food anyway. You can put green chile on a hotdog, a burger or slice of pizza. What is great about these outlets is people realize that 505 works as a condiment in so many more ways than they may have thought.

What’s planned at Coors Field (Note: MLB Opening Day has been delayed until at least June because of the spread of the novel coronavirus):

Holland: What’s great about the Colorado Rockies is they already had a menu item that was perfect for our green chile: The Denver dog. Then our salsa was at every salsa station (in the ballpark).

Then the Rockies came to us and said, ‘Would you been interested in creating a 505 restaurant concept within the stadium?’

We’re trying to create a taco stand — a really premium burrito and taco stand — where everything is made with 505 green chile. It will be in a marquis location within the stadium. There’s a couple of different spots we’re looking at them with them.

On increased demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

Holland: We’ve seen a 20% increase in volume really since the beginning of the year. We can’t make it fast enough.

We built our new distribution facility in 2018. Most recently we have gone to two shifts. We’ve added a full second shift as demand for our products skyrockets.

We’re in the food industry, We make nonperishable food products and were are honored to be serving the world right now by keeping these store shelves stocked.

Let me tell you, nothing makes a frozen pizza feel a little better than putting a little 505 green chile and on there and putting that is the oven.

On selling products made with Hatch green chiles while being based in Colorado, home of Pueblo chiles:

Holland: The reality is the state of New Mexico has built an economy around green chile and the infrastructure is there. The acres dedicated to the green chile is a factor of 20-to-1 compared to Colorado.

When people talk about green chile, when the governor talks about green chile, that is good for us. We really want everybody to know that if the world eats more green chiles, wherever they’re from, all boats will rise.

We’re doing our part to tell people around the world that green chile is a great ingredient.