Son thinks Dad’s little lid can do
Brad Stieg, co-owner of S&S Innovations in the Grand Junction Business Incubator Center, has three types of loyal customers.
First, there are those who can hundreds or thousands of jars of food each year and look at Stieg’s plastic canning lids as “the Holy Grail” of lids, he said, because, unlike metal lids, his are reusable.
Then there are the health-conscious consumers who buy the lids because they’re free of Bisphenol A, or BPA, a compound linked in some studies to negative health effects.
Finally, Stieg has a loyal following of “preppers and survivalists,” people who want to make sure they have a lasting food supply if Armageddon happens.
Stieg doesn’t fit into that last category, but he’s happy to supply anyone with the reusable canning lids his father invented and began selling in 1976. Back then, Loren Stieg decided to take advantage of a nationwide shortage of metal canning lids and used his expertise in plastic tool-making to make a plastic canning lid.
The result was the Tattler line of lids, which come in two sizes, regular and large, and are sold with rubber rings. The elder Stieg sold the lids in stores across the upper Midwest and Northwest, but the business tapered off by the late 1970s, and the lids lingered in obscurity until March 2010, when Brad Stieg began selling them again as co-owner of S&S with his father, who lives in Michigan.
The younger Stieg, 44, moved into the Business Incubator, 2591 Legacy Way, two months ago after the business became too cumbersome to conduct in his Fruita home. He sold 10 times more lids in his first year in business than he expected to sell. During the busy canning months of June, July, August and September, he expects to sell 100 lids a day.
His peak sales day of 270 lids came the Monday after he called into Glenn Beck’s radio show this January. Beck was requesting calls on a Friday from people who had started businesses during the recession. Stieg called in to the show and discussed his success with the Fox show host.
The call generated so much traffic to Stieg’s website, ReusableCanningLids.com, that the site crashed.
Stieg sells most of his cans through the site and has shipped them to all 50 states and some international addresses. The lids are also sold in the Fruita Co-op, 248 U.S. Highway 6&50, and eventually will be sold in the Palisade Co-op, 205 W. Eighth St.
The lids are guaranteed not to crack if used properly, or the company will replace the lid. The rubber rings placed around the jar mouth below the lid will stretch out after numerous uses, though, so customers can buy a packet of rings separately for the lids.
A packet of three lids and rings costs $20.95 for the regular size and $23.95 for the wide-mouth size. That’s about three times the cost of a metal lid set, Stieg said, but the lids can be used for years.
“We still use lids around the house that my father made in 1976,” Stieg said.
The rings are shipped to Grand Junction from Michigan, and the lids are made in Fruita by Granite Design & Development, 2150 H Road.
Stieg decided to sell the lids after losing his job in the oil and gas field two years ago. His wife, Serena, left a pharmaceuticals job at St. Mary’s Hospital to join him as the office administrator for S&S, and the company employs two part-time workers.
Stieg’s long-term goals for the operation are to move his father to the Grand Valley and expand into smaller stores across the nation.