Modesto entrepreneur Costa to add workers as companies take off

jnsbranti@modbee.comJune 18, 2013 

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ELIAS FUNEZ/efunez@modbee.com Modesto business entrepreneur Dan Costa (left) acts as a salesman for one of his newest businesses, Your Chefs of America, dishing up hot samples for shoppers at O'Brien's Market including Modesto's Kristina Santiago Monday (03-11-13) afternoon. The easy to make home meals boast fresh local ingredients with recipes inspired by some of the region's top chefs from restaurants like Dewz, Bistro234, Surla's, and Toscana's.

ELIAS FUNEZ — The Modesto Bee

— Modesto entrepreneur Dan Costa says the two companies he launched this spring are "taking off," and he's expanding his staff to meet growing demand.

"We have to hire another 10 people this summer," said Costa, whose Your Chefs of America company has 20 employees.

Costa said more grocery stores have started stocking his homemade gourmet dinner kits. By next week, they'll be sold in 65 supermarkets (O'Brien's Market, Save Mart and Raley's) in the Central Valley, Bay Area and Reno.

"We'll be expanding every week now," he said. "By the end of the summer, we'll be in at least 100 stores in the valley."

Costa said he needs additional people to do in-store cooking demonstrations to show how easy it is to prepare meals from his dinner kits. Those employees will be paid $10 per hour.

"We want to stay focused in the valley and fully market our product here first," Costa explained. Then he plans to expand to more stores in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Sauces for the meal kits are made in Turlock, the vegetables are prepared in Sacramento and the proteins (assorted meats and seafood) are supplied by each grocery store.

Markets that offer the kits have had average sales of about 10 per day, which Costa said "is a big winner for the store." He said that's why more markets have started offering the product since it was introduced in March.

Costa also launched Noble Equine in March. That company, which focuses on products for those who ride horses, sells to about 800 stores nationwide — including four in Stanislaus County.

"Our clothing line is coming out this fall," said Costa, noting how he expects that to expand sales. He said that company also is hiring, but most of its jobs are sales positions outside California.

Noble Equine's products primarily are made abroad, but its headquarters are in Modesto, just like Your Chefs of America.

Costa will launch a third venture — Med Zone — in August. That medical balm company will make assorted soothing ointments, which will be sold in motorcycle and sporting goods stores.

"I haven't had a day off in about three months," said Costa, who admitted working only a half shift on Father's Day.

Costa's hard work has a track record of paying off. Back in 2007, he sold his Modesto-based 5.11 Tactical clothing line for $300 million.

On the Net:For more information about about Costa's new companies, go to www.yourchefsofamerica.com and www.nobleequine.com.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.

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