Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana Inc.
Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana Inc. (PUL) has roots dating back more than 100 years to when Edmund and Louise Bulliard bottled the first commercially sold cayenne pepper sauce in 1910. Working out of the family kitchen in St. Martinville, La., the couple first began distributing the spicy sauce to neighbors and friends in the area. The business blossomed into an international business, adding a distinct Cajun kick to meals all over the world.
Now, a fourth generation of Bulliards has entered the smoking hot sauce business, as George E. Bulliard Sr. founded PUL in 1993. He grew up making pepper sauces from family recipes and experimenting with his own new flavors. George Sr. launched his business inspired by his grandfather Edmund’s entrepreneurial and culinary success. George Sr. serves as president of the business to this day, working alongside his son, John Bulliard, vice president and general manager of PUL.
Other family members involved include Leslie B. Willis, John’s sister and secretary and treasurer of PUL, as well as John’s nephew, Ryan Bulliard, assistant to vice president. Ryan’s father also served as vice president of PUL before passing away in 2010.
Bringing the heat
PUL still operates out of the family’s hometown of St. Martinville, La. The 200,000-square-foot facility turns out more than 100,000 gallons of sauce every day. The company employs approximately 140 people in production, as well as the sales office in New Orleans and representatives across the United States.
Over the years, the business has attracted thousands of customers from all over the world. PUL products can be found in 85 countries with growing popularity in the Middle East. Consumers with a taste for spice can find the family’s flavorful sauces in restaurants and on the shelves of grocery stores.
Products include: hot sauce, wing sauce, marinade, barbecue sauce, steak sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki and even cured peppers. “We’re passionate about food here,” says John, who loves to cook and has developed more than 600 recipes over the years. “We have several different labels under our brand, including Bulliard and La Supreme.”
The business is certified through the Safe Quality Food Institute at level-three, the highest achievable commendation. This guarantees the safety of the company’s products for consumers. PUL’s production line is sanitary and the company’s workers take great care in producing healthy, safe and tasty products.
To formulate these sauces, the business has an in-house micro lab and also works with food scientists at Missouri State University and University of Alabama, as well as a strategic partner in Australia. The facility houses eight separate production lines comprised of machinery that the team assembles in-house. To accommodate the construction and maintenance of this machinery, PUL has an in-house welding shop. There is little the business subs out. For the tasks and products that are harder to procure within the business, John and his team maintain longstanding relationships with suppliers. One such supplier is All-American Containers in Miami, a business that provides PUL’s containers.
PUL has been on a steady path of growth for more than 20 years. The business’ geographic footprint continues to expand. Meanwhile, John and his team are constantly striving to keep the product line growing with new sauces to meet the demands of consumers in a global market.
“One of our new initiatives is sending Sriracha sauce to Sweden,” John notes. “Our biggest challenge now is just keeping up with new formulas and new ideas. We are working toward more gift pack products as well for larger restaurants and stores.” The team has also found a growing niche supplying fast food establishments, such as McDonald’s.
After more than 100 years in the business, the Bulliard family has learned a few things about customer service. “I’ve been in this industry my whole life,” John explains. “I know that customer satisfaction is our best indicator of success. The way we work with the people who buy from us is what really sets our team apart.”
At the end of the day, PUL is all about a family atmosphere. At 74, George Sr. still comes to work every day, although John notes that his father’s schedule revolves more around tee time these days. Business rides on familiarity: customers know the family and they know the brand. The Bulliards have built an honest and comfortable company to do business with, which is a great point of pride for John and his team.
In the coming years, John is focused on growth and is looking forward to involving his son, Hunter, in the family business. With flavorful, high-quality sauces and unbeatable customer service, Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana Inc. continues to bring the heat into the next generation.