Jennifer Reynolds with Sauce Goddess products
Jennifer Reynolds with her Sauce Goddess products. Image from company Facebook page

Two small, but successful San Diego companies, Yerbuzz and Sauce Goddess, are advancing in Walmart’s coveted Open Call competition, according to a spokeswoman for the vast retail purveyor.  

The businesses are seeking the opportunity to work with the retailer for the opportunity to place their products in Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. 

Yerbuzz, which makes the hard seltzer product Hard Yerba Mate, is the brainchild of founder and CEO Dan Nierman, who grew up in Rancho Santa Fe. Local entrepreneur Jennifer Reynolds is the founder of Sauce Goddess Gourmet Products, which makes the best-selling barbeque sauces.

The two were among 900 potential product suppliers invited to pitch their products to Walmart and Sam’s Club buyers earlier this year. They are now part of the 167 nationwide advancing to the next stage.

Overall, more than 17 small businesses from California are advancing.

Open Call represents Walmart’s $350 billion commitment to boost the U.S. manufacturing sector, according to a news release.

In addition to a jump in spending on more diverse suppliers, the company estimates its latest commitment of so many billions of dollars will lead to the creation of 750,000 jobs as well as avoid 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions — a root source of climate change — by sourcing suppliers closer to its customers.

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Ingo Hentschel

Cable TV and internet provider Cox Communications announces that Ingo Hentschel is its new region manager for California, overseeing operations in San Diego and Orange County as well as Palos Verdes and Santa Barbara. He succeeds Sam Attisha, who has been tapped to lead a new national team for the company.

According to a news release, Hentschel, an ex-U.S. Marine, has held various leadership positions during his 30 years at Cox –most recently as vice president of field operations for California. Hentschel and Attisha will be based in San Diego.

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The Ramona Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its annual Ramona Country Fair from July 30 to Aug 1. The event would have celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020, but it was canceled due to the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the events of the past couple of years, this is a way to get the community back out there safely in a family-friendly, fun environment,” said Stephanie Macdonald, the chamber member who is in charge of the fair.

“We really want this be something we are able to give our town,” she said.

The three-day event will feature carnival rides, games and prizes, numerous food and craft vendors, award-winning wines, music and other forms of entertainment. Click here for more information about the event and schedules.

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North County shopping hub North City San Marcos has a new “culinary tenant,” the Italian cuisine inspired Buona Forchetta.  The 120-seat eatery represents an expansion of owner Matteo Cattaneo restaurant in San Diego’s popular South Park neighborhood.

The North County development, which is located off State Highway 78 near Twin Oaks Valley Road, features 3,000 residential units that includes housing for Cal State San Marcos students, 375,000 square feet of retail, 750,000 square feet of commercial office and 20 acres of parks and trails. Sea Breeze Properties is the developer.

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San Diego health IT company Xfin says it has acquired Simi Valley-based Computerized Management Services, which provides revenue management services to in-hospital radiology groups and imaging centers.

 A spokeswoman explains that radiology departments and imaging centers are experiencing higher workloads along with various obstacles to boost operations, with many facing declining reimbursements and fee reductions. She said the acquisition will provide radiology centers with the technology required to better run their business operations.

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Finally, this item of note: Ever-popular 74-year-old consumer food product Hot Dog on a Stick is going mobile in San Diego. Connie and Gary Barham, current owners, who are based in San Diego, are adding a local food truck to their operations starting July 18. Gary is the son of company founder Dave Barham and has been involved in the company for most of his life.

The truck, which can be booked for private events, can serve up to 1,000 people an hour. Other food products will include French fries, funnel cake and lemonade, as well as other offerings. The company has existing trucks in other parts of Southern California and Las Vegas.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to