NOAS Products tingling taste buds for two generations
If 500 grams of flour and a bottle of coconut oil could launch a successful business spanning two generations, then listening to Ms. Samanmalie Rajakaruna’s success story is really amazing.
Samanmalie Rajakarunais the pioneering owner of Noas Products ( Private) Limited, which most are familiar with when it comes to ‘bites’ or the gram, peanut, cashew mixture now popularly called as ‘cocktail mixture’ or even as just ‘mixture’. Having begun as a hobby, with some advice and recipes from her mother and having established a thriving business, Samanmalie is now gradually handing over her business to her daughter to continue tingling the taste buds of another generation with yet other new products.
“I started this business 30 years ago, in 1989. My mother used to prepare these mixtures for parties, and whenever we go on trips and everyone loved them.
After I gave birth to my children, I thought why not start a small business by preparing and selling them? So, with my mother’s assistance I made a few packets of the mixture with 500 grams of flour and a bottle of coconut oil, sealed them in polythene packets with the help of a burning candle and began selling them among my friends. I tried out several mixtures before coming out with what we are selling now. They loved it so much and some suggested that I should go ahead and supply these to shops as well.
I had one particular friend who owned a shop. She asked me to provide her some packets to be sold there. I gave her 10 packets and they sold like hotcakes within two days. Then I gave her around 25 packets and they too sold very fast. That was the launching pad for my business, then known as ‘ devilled mixture’ and now by several names,” says Samanmalie with deep satisfaction.
Beginning with 10 and then 25 and more packets, she ventured into supplying the chain of supermarkets named Cornel at that time. This guided her into the proper business procedure like ‘ branding’ her products, providing bills and or other documents and maintaining records.
“With my earnings I bought a small van to deliver the orders faster. I had two assistants at the beginning and I personally drove the van and delivered the goods to the shops. Gradually, I found that my products were selling very fast due to their better quality. Hence, I was particular in maintaining the quality and also tried out new products, which too became popular almost instantly.”
The proud person behind NOAS products gives a firm assurance that even today, she is firm in maintaining the quality of her products and that she makes sure that the best ingredients, irrespective of their prices, are used and thus maintain zero customer complaints. Samanmalie continues, “This encouraged us to invest in some machinery and recruit more staff to our venture. We started supplying the supermarkets in Colombo and its suburbs and then island-wide and also to certain shops across the country.”
To the vital question on maintaining the freshness of her products and the legal requirements that go with it, Samanmalie responds thus; “We do not prepare huge quantities and store them. Instead, whenever we receive orders for large quantities we request for at least a week to deliver, and then prepare the products in batches. This helps us in maintaining the freshness and sticking to within the expiry dates of four months maximum. I am proud to assure that we do not use any artificial preservatives or chemicals to prolong the shelf-life of our products. I have instructed our sales representatives to be alert and look out for anything amiss in our products, like any visible signs of looking spoilt etc. and if so to immediately pull them off the shelves. I am very particular in maintaining the quality on which our reputation is based on. I always say quality guaranteed. The main ingredients we use are cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fresh curry leaves and fresh garlic. They are our main ingredients.”
She reiterates that being sensitive to her staff; now numbering 30 has been another added ingredient for her success. “I always call them my family and I enjoy helping them. The come to me with any problems they face, even personal problems. That makes me happy. Entire families have worked for me earlier, and even now they come often to help out or just visit me.
After having engaged in this spicy business for almost 30 years, Samanmalie now plans to hand it over to her daughter, who too has been assisting her all this while, and plans to take a back seat and still watch her business continue, while adding newer products introduced by her daughter.
She has expectations too, of seeing her daughter taking NOAS products into the international arena. “She is very talented. She has so many new ideas of her own and even unbelievable! I am sure she will take the business to another level. During a recent exhibition at the BMICH too there were so many inquiries about our products, especially three new products introduced by my daughter. This shows that we can take them to international markets as well,” adds a beaming Samanmalie Rajakaruna.
Asked whether she uses any ready-mixed or made variety of flour available in the market to prepare her products, she says that she uses only a very few of such ingredients and she makes it a point to always use fresh stuff. Even the garlic mixed in her products are fresh and crushed when being prepared. This helps maintain the quality and also the aroma, is her assurance.Oshani Ratnayake who is to take over her business, is Samanmalie’s second daughter. A past pupil of Methodist College, she had ventured into beauty culture and has had her own salon for a while. With the arrival of her own baby, she has left beauty culture and followed on her mother’s footsteps. And, NOAS Products is set to continue from here for the second generation, or to be exact, for the third generation, since the concept came from Samanmalie’s mother to her and now passes on to her daughter. Beginning from home, then among friends, and then making their mark in the local market, NOAS Products may soon find themselves in the international markets and competing with the best of products.
Finally, Samanmalie Rajukaruna has a wish and also a message.
Her wish is that her elder daughter, Niroshinie Ratnayake, who is currently a successful banker in Australia, would in time join her and her younger daughter with Noas Products. A wish any mother would hold on to.
Her message is to all women in Sri Lanka mainly to inspire them to go after their dreams, come what may, so that one fine day they can achieve their goals.