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Top Seedz year in review: What has the 43North champion been up to and what's in store for future?

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Buffalo Next

BY NATALIE BROPHY

Nov. 24, 2022

Top Seedz year in review: What has the 43North champion been up to and what's in store for the future? 

Rebecca Brady's healthy crackers and seeds company, Top Seedz, has had quite the year since the business won $1 million from the Buffalo 43North startup contest in 2021. 

The Buffalo-born company's crackers and roasted seeds are now in 600 grocery stores across the country, including some major chains like Wegmans, Whole Foods, Tops Friendly Markets, Erewhon and Giant. Top Seedz's online sales have doubled and Brady was able to work with Home Goods and United Airlines to get her products out to more new customers. 

But as she reflected on the past year, Brady thinks Top Seedz's two biggest accomplishments were finalizing the location for a new production facility and growing her team. 

Brady believes her business still would have accomplished these things if she hadn't won $1 million from 43North. But the victory helped speed things up and also gave her a critical confidence boost. 

"Having $1 million as a backing and 43North behind me just gave us this great burst of confidence," she said.

$1 million crackers

Rebecca Brady of Top Seedz reacts as she is named the winner of the $1 million prize during the 43North business plan competition finals at Shea's Performing Arts Center on Oct. 28, 2021. 

New facility, automation will increase output   

Next year, Top Seedz will move from its current manufacturing space on Cayuga Road in Cheektowaga to a 35,000-square-foot facility on Oak Street in downtown Buffalo. 

Top Seedz crackers are made almost entirely by hand by Brady's staff of refugee workers. The new facility will give Top Seedz the space to begin automating some of the labor-intensive processes that go into making the crackers. 

Top Seedz will be able to make 6 million boxes of crackers per year in the new facility, six times current the annual output, Brady said. 

Scooping seeds

A worker packages and weighs bags of seeds inside the Top Seedz production facility in Cheektowaga.

Brady's goal is to move into the new facility in March, but there's still a lot of work to be done, she said. 

The company has to renovate the facility to fit its needs and order the new equipment. 

Once they move into the downtown space, Top Seedz will gradually shift toward automation as employees are retrained to work the machines. Brady also anticipates hiring technicians and engineers to run the equipment.  

Growing team gives Brady time to look to future 

In October 2021, Top Seedz had around 20 employees, the majority of whom were the refugee women who make the crackers.

A little over a year later, Top Seedz has more than 30 employees.

A big focus for Brady this year has been expanding the business side of the team. She hired seven employees from Western New York to specialize in human resources and finance, food safety and quality, supply chain, warehousing, production management, operations and marketing. 

And Top Seedz will keep hiring to hit its goal of 48 employees in order to benefit from a $315,000 tax credit from the state. 

Brady said she is very happy with the team she's built. They handle the day-to-day operations of running the company, freeing Brady up to "work on the business, not in the business" and plan for the future, she said. 

What does the future hold for Top Seedz?  

Moving into the new facility and figuring out the best ways to automate Top Seedz's production processes are the biggest focuses for 2023, Brady said. 

She wants to continue doubling the company's growth each year. One of Brady's next major goals is to expand Top Seedz into Canada. She's currently working with a consultant to pave the way to make that happen. 

The Top Seed (copy)

Rebecca Brady, the founder of Top Seedz, stands near  pallets of her organic crackers and seeds ready for shipment at the Top Seedz production facility in Cheektowaga on Jan. 26, 2022.

Brady is also experimenting with new seasonal products. Top Seedz came out with pumpkin spice roasted seeds this year that were a big hit. One of the most frequent requests from customers is for a spicy seed, which Brady thinks could make for a good Valentine's Day product. 

– Natalie Brophy 

Want to know more? Three stories to catch you up:


Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing Buffalo Niagara economy – from real estate to health care to startups. Read more at BuffaloNext.com.


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The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to buffalonext@buffnews.com or reach Buffalo Next Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

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