Meet Josh Wells! He is the CEO and owner of Sun Valley Mustard. (Pictured with Louis Allison). He is also a professional photographer and owns Sun Valley Photo offering professional photography and video services for Architecture, Real Estate, Construction and Design. He is a loving husband and a great father to Dillon.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Sun Valley is full of amazing people and amazing brands. It is the diversity of this community that’s really interesting. We moved here for the recreation, but we stayed here because of the community. Sun Valley Mustard has been an integral part of the community for over 36 years. It was founded by Louis Allison in 1984 with an old family recipe. The brand was traded a couple of times and I am the 4th owner. The reason why I bought it was because I heard a rumor that the previous owner was either going to sell it or close it. For me it was more about saving the brand, and I love the product. I had respect and admiration for the brand and the desire to keep it going. So, I bought it with the help of some friends, and we had to retool the business to get it to a place where it could perform more consistently. In 2014-2015 is when we were really started pushing hard and we had distribution outside the state of Idaho, we were in Albertson’s, Whole Foods and a handful of other chains. We were in 5 different states. It was at that point in time that I realized that I did not have the experience or background to properly build a food company. Also, I had a lot of changes happening in my life. My photography business took off, my wife got pregnant and we had a lot of things happening. So, I had to pull back from Sun Valley Mustard. Fortunately, I meet a seasoned industry executive and he did a comprehensive strategic business case study on the company. After 5 months of analysis they concluded it that this Sun Valley Mustard was one of the most interesting and compelling food startups. It was so compelling that he came on board as a senior advisor and an investor. He is helping and guiding me to the path of sustainable growth for the business. One of the things that has been interesting for me is the people that I’ve met along the way in this business. It’s the people and relationships that make up the fabric of this community.
What brought you to Sun Valley?
I been coming to Sun Valley all my life. I am an Idaho native; my parents had a little condo here when I was growing up. I grew up skiing here. It has a special place in my heart. The catalyst for moving here full time was really the tragic 9/11 event. At that time, I was working in Salt Lake City and had a pretty good job with a software startup, but we ran out of money and it was impossible to raise capital after that. So, I moved to Sun Valley to take a break and let the dust settle. Through a chain of events and just sort of survival, I ended up doing a lot of different things here. My wife and I have discussed other areas as opportunities but now that we have our son, there’s no place we’d rather be. This community is so strong and amazing. We love it here.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Sun Valley?
Too many people to list. The level of diversity and the depth of character and personalities of people who live and visit here is unmatched in a community this size. Everyone is interesting in their own way.
What is your favorite restaurant in the Wood River Valley?
Wow, that’s tough because I have so many favorites! My wife and I are both foodies. We eat everywhere!
What restaurant makes you most nostalgic about Sun Valley?
Good question, I guess from a tourist perspective it would be the Pioneer Saloon,
What is your favorite past time here is Sun Valley?
Anything with my wife with and my kid, I love to spend my time with my family. I love the hashtag chillinwithDillon. He is 4 almost 5, or has he likes to say, “I’m 4 and three quarters.”
What advice would you give a group of visitors about Sun Valley?
I would say to spend enough time here and really get to know the community itself. Often times when people travel and the time goes by so quickly that they never got a chance to internalize. There is no replacement for it and you cannot read about it. You have to experience it. I would probably give them a short list of fun places to visit in town, a couple of fun coffee shops that have a different vibes like Maude’s and Hailey Coffee, and a must visit is the Sun Valley Lodge. Look at the black & white photos in the hall, check out the bowling alley. I would encourage the people explore the recreational opportunities. One of the most special places in the world is Galena Lodge.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
When I was 22 years old, I landed an internship in Washington DC working for a US Senator. I grew up in Pocatello, Idaho then suddenly, I found myself in one of the most amazing cities in the world; culturally diverse. I was able to enjoy a lot of new experiences. Visiting the White House and the West wing during the Clinton administration. I spent over 3 years there working full time in the US Senate. It was great to get out of my comfort zone. Also, a lot of people don’t know I’m an attorney.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: I love a warm and inviting home. Home is about experience and the joy of being together and entertaining. Our home even has a name, the Alpinhut.
Q: What is the one question I haven’t asked you that I should have?
A: There was a question I was asked when I was in my fraternity was if you knew you’re going to die tomorrow what would you do today? I always say when that day comes, I don’t want any regrets. No matter what you decide to do in your life make sure it’s something that you’re doing so when you’re at your death bed, you don’t have any regrets. I just read an interesting quote “life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy doing” so if you don’t enjoy it, change now because it will be harder tomorrow and you will have less time to make a change. I feel fortunate that I have my humble home in Sun Valley and that our kid grows up in this amazing and safe community with all the opportunities and he can go to great schools. I think that is what success in life is all about.