Insight Innovation Award Winner: Entrepreneurial Grit

R2H Flavor Tech: ‘Boot-strapping’ owners taking a chance on a smokin’ good idea

Posted by of Insight Publications

The founders of R2H Flavor Tech in Manitowoc took a bad situation – the company they worked for was sold to a foreign national – and turned it in their favor: they launched their own business in the condensed smoke industry.

That initiative and pluck led R2H Flavor Tech to receive a special Insight Innovation Award recognizing its entrepreneurial grit.


After their employer was sold, Jeff Rozum, president, and Julie Rozum, director of technology, realized there was just one viable industry supplier and decided to launch their own smoke manufacturing company. Using their passion, enthusiasm and a solid business plan, the Rozums and their team found a way to turn their idea into a manufacturing facility.

The contest judges were impressed with the company’s innovative risk and their commitment to keep the business in Wisconsin.

“These are people who believed in the market and believed in themselves and said, ‘we’re going all in’ — and they took the risk,” one judge said. “They really boot-strapped it and exercised their entrepreneurial backbone — making it happen with what they have, where they have it.”

After years of working for someone else, the Rozums wanted to do things their own way. They invested in new equipment and designed a safer, more efficient system that allows for increased production with a smaller carbon footprint. R2H installed condensed smoke production lines that can produce as much finished product as a facility with more than twice the amount of equipment. R2H also uses hardwood sawdust as a raw material, which is automatically monitored for particle size and moisture content prior to further processing, resulting in fewer manual inputs and a more consistent finished product.

The Rozums say R2H operates on the principle that they and their employees breathe the same air and drink the same water as those in the community and that polluting the environment in the pursuit of profit goes against the company’s corporate values.