With a steady hand and an open mind, Barry C. Levin has turned Snak King into one of the snack industry’s top innovators

His immediate reaction to both the roof collapse and the loss of his family’s home was the same.

“My first thought was, ‘Is everybody safe? Did anybody get hurt?’” Levin says. “Once the answer was no for both of those, it was just a matter of fixing it. Once it’s not affecting anybody’s life or personal well-being, the rest of it is just money. It kind of makes you reflect a little on what’s important in life.”

At the same time, Levin recognized that there was a lot at stake for his employees and their families. These people very much needed Snak King to get back to business as soon as possible.

“I was concerned about the safety of the people that I work with and also the fact that they needed jobs,” Levin says. “They needed to do something. We had always been there to provide them work. I felt an obligation to continue to provide an opportunity for them to work if they wanted to. I felt that burden of responsibility. We’re not just feeding the people we had working for us, but it was all the people and the mouths that they were feeding that weighed on me.”

When you’re in a tough spot and you bring that spirit of strength and resilience to your work, you stand a much better chance at leading your team back to where it wants to be.

“It was a phenomenal team-building experience,” Levin says. “Everybody just jumped in and was willing to do whatever it took to keep the ball moving forward to get the company back on its feet.”

It was true even in the midst of long days and working out of a temporary facility as the roof was repaired.

“It was a massive challenge, but we came out much stronger in the end because of it,” Levin says.

Dare to be different

As far back as his first days working at Snak King, Levin says he’s never concerned himself too much with the distant future.

“I’ve always just been driven by trying to do it right,” Levin says. “We moved from a 1,200-square-foot building to a 50,000-square-foot building. I had a vision of using all 50,000 feet, but we only used 20,000 of it and sublet the other 30,000. We’ve always got aspirations to grow and be better. But the bigger aspiration is to be really good at what we do. If we’re doing it right and we’re focused on that, the growth will come.”

The most important thing for any business leader should be making sure that your people feel like they are an integral part of whatever your plan is for the business.

“One of the keys for us has been to build a team where everybody feels part of the success when something good happens and feels some responsibility when something hasn’t gone well,” Levin says. “It’s the team that makes it happen, good or bad. It’s all about the people.”

Snak King competes in a multibillion-dollar industry with a number of well-known competitors. It’s not easy to stand out from the competition, but Levin and his team have still found a way to do just that.

“We always try to be a little bit different,” Levin says. “Quality is No. 1 and consistency is super important. Food safety is paramount. But it’s also good to do something with a twist, something innovative. We are in a space dominated by massive players. The only way we can grow and survive is to be a little different.”