Author’s Blurb: Peanut butter is just one of those staples you must have if you enjoy toast (unless you have a peanut allergy), and the quality of a lot of mass produced commercial brands that I’ve tried over the years have been disappointing. But there are Malaysians out there trying to change this by offering healthier, tastier alternatives.
Jobbie Nut Butter was launched in 2015 by Debbie and Joseph, 2 SPM graduates with no prior peanut butter making experience.
By 2017, they were selling 1,000 to 2,000 jars a month, and were finally beginning to see profit.
They arrived in 2020 safely, but on April 7, they made a transparent Facebook post to announce that they would be going bankrupt very soon.
While they said they were doing much better than a lot of other businesses, they were nonetheless struggling due to running out of stock, options, and resources.
Their suppliers for raw peanuts, glass bottles, label stickers, and boxes, for example, had all closed down.
In Jobbie Nut Butter’s desperation to keep running, they’ve come up with a last resort.
“We will be running a pre-order only for all our peanut butter for the next 45 days,” they wrote, and admitted that they knew how ‘crazy’ it sounded that they were trying to sell something they didn’t have in stock currently.
“Sadly speaking, we’re not a big corporation yet, we can’t give big promos, or raise funds like an IPO company and give you our company shares because it might not be worth anything much at the moment (we don’t even know if we’ll survive the next few weeks),” the post continued.
Wanting to learn more about their situation, Vulcan Post reached out to the brand and got a hold of Victor, who’s been their CEO since 2019.
An Uncertain Future
Firstly, we were curious—with Jobbie Nut Butter’s 5-year business history, wouldn’t there usually be a runway of sorts before immediate bankruptcy?
Victor told us that the first 4 years of the company were tough. “Back then, they reinvested every profit they had into the brand and even slept in our current factory/warehouse (their old beds are still in the office), all in the name of delivering value and a better product to our Jobbie customers and supporters.”
“Honestly, if we took the route of typical businesses early on there could be a lot of cost savings that we could implement like cheaper packaging, plastic jars and labels, but a high product quality was our priority at all times.”
Thus, they ended up being a very lean company to focus on growth with ‘good enough’ profits to keep the company afloat every month.
According to Victor, their current dilemma wasn’t so much about the business’ past as it was about the new operating environment.
“In our case there is a huge disruption to our supply chain and no certainty at all. All of them are either closed or have not been granted the license to operate, which means even if we could operate and had sales, we have no product to deliver to our customers! And no product equals no sales.”
He added that it also doesn’t help that their industry is one that requires a lot of working capital, as they typically have to buy a lot of raw and packaging materials upfront before orders even come in. This means that a lot of cash will need to be reinvested into the production of stock itself.
Keeping It Real
It’s not easy to admit that one is going bankrupt, much less announce it as it is to your 23,000+ followers on a very public platform.
So why did Jobbie Nut Butter do it this way?
“One of the key values of our company is integrity, where we honour and deliver on our promises both to customers and employees,” Victor said.
In this situation, they were experimenting with ways to sustain sales and felt that the pre-order model would help.
But with the business uncertainty the MCO has caused them, they’re unsure of whether they could deliver in the next week or two.
“We did not want to give marketing spins or take advantage of the current COVID-19 situation on why you should pre-order with us, we wanted to just be honest about our challenges with our customers, and if they could wait slightly longer then it’s up to them to decide,” Victor said.
“It was also a very real threat that if we had no product to sell in a few months’ time, cash reserves would just burn out.”
In the comments of the post, fans expressed support and showed the team that they had made their pre-orders proudly.
Victor believes that with their support in these dark times, honesty and transparency were the least that Jobbie Nut Butter could offer to their fans.
The Necessary Preparations
As for why they had chosen 45 days specifically, Victor told us that it was an assumption on their side that the MCO would last until the end of May.
In the case that it would extend for longer, Jobbie Nut Butter has made preparations.
“If by then we cannot deliver, we would refund all the orders we have received for these pre-orders to keep our promise to our customers, and possibly shut down the company temporarily,” Victor shared.
“It’s just the more responsible path for the employees (where they can look for alternatives) and fellow shareholders (where we do not continue burning funds with no realistic projections on when operations can resume).”
By their estimations, for them to sustain themselves every month, they would need to sell at least 4,500 jars per month.
“Our costs are high for the product because we have never compromised on the quality, so every dollar counts in ensuring the survival of the Jobbie brand,” Victor stated.
“It’s our dream and vision that we will survive this and still continue to spread the love of Jobbie to everyone in Malaysia and beyond to show the resiliency of Malaysian brands!”
To help boost interest in the pre-orders, they’ve provided the promo code ‘LASTJOBBIE’ that will grant customers an RM10 discount store-wide with no minimum order required.
The promo will be valid from April 7 to June 30, 2020.
Bottom Line: Despite never having heard of them prior to this (nor tasting their peanut butter), I’d love to see them be able to pull through the MCO and continue producing their peanut butter. Their journey has been an impressive one from the start, and I’d want to try their product for myself as well.
Featured Image Credit: Jobbie Nut Butter