By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
What started out as a wife making energy bars to sustain her triathlete husband during long distance cycling rides has turned into both a business and a message inspired by a city described in the Bible.
The company is named LoAdebar, and the power behind the energy bar is Norma Maloney, a resident of Ooltewah just outside Chattanooga. We caught-up with her recently to learn more about the passions that have driven this native of South America who immigrated to Canada 40 years ago.
“After we moved to Canada, my husband took-up cycling,” Maloney explained. “This sport required nutrition. I experimented for years with homemade bars. It was a hobby.”
The family later moved to Houston before finally settling in the Hamilton County community where the hobby turned into a business, some six years after Maloney was encouraged to do so by her daughter. It is also a cause to help women.
“I never thought of it as a business,” Maloney says. “It was just fuel for his hobby. But it went from being a good idea to a God idea.”
In the beginning, she says the recipes she used called for sugar and corn syrup. As Maloney learned more about nutrition, she altered the bars. The first commercially-produced bar is natural, organic, gluten free, vegan and non-GMO. A second bar added later includes a layer of dark chocolate, and the company started selling LoAdebar Bites this past December.
“We’re sold in Whole Food stores in the southeast region, coffee shops, gyms, and concessions in 21 regional airports across 15 states,” Maloney says. The bars are also available online.
“They’re not just for athletes, but also for those wanting a healthy alternative,” she adds.
What caught our attention and makes the effort particularly meaningful begins with the name of the product – clearly a play on words (load e bar) – but, more important, the distinctive logo.
“Look at the logo,” Maloney tells us during our Skype interview, calling-out the capital letter “A” in the name. Remove that letter, and you have the name Lodebar. We must admit we did not immediately capture the significance.
“We have a mission side of the business that brings a message of hope for the soul,” Maloney says. She explained that Lodebar is a place where “people are living in shame because of negative circumstances.” It is described on one webpage we found as “a barren place . . . of no hope and total desolation. People normally end-up in places like Lodebar when they have been crushed by the storms of life. You may find people who believe their lives are over. In Lodebar, you might find the lost, unskilled, and uneducated. You might find those who have been cast out by society. You might find those who have been scorned.”
Now, back to the logo where the capital “A” has been inserted into the name of the city. Maloney explains the letter depicts “a picture of Almighty God who comes as the answer for your situation, a cross and red ink symbolizing the blood of Jesus.”
The symbolism helps you really grasp just how passionate Maloney is about the cause . . . to help women who have been wounded in any of several ways and have little incentives to keep going.
One of the ways LoAdebar does this is by collaborating with a local ministry – Love’s Arm Outreach which is modeled after Thistle Farms in Nashville, providing cost free housing and support services for women coming out of drug addiction prostitution..
“That’s the passion of my heart,” Maloney adds, explaining she wants to have an empowerment center in the Chattanooga area. Our goal is to see the women healed, empowered and employed. “ (LoAdebar) is more than a bar or a business. It’s a bridge to take people beyond their brokenness.”
The mission caused her to most recently participate in CO.LAB’s inaugural Consumer Goods Accelerator Program. “We need to grow,” Maloney says and we wanted to make sure that we establish a strong foundation to sustain that growth.”