When you talk to Kize Concepts founder Jeff Ragan about what he does for a living, his famous Kize bars — produced by the millions and sold nationwide — are almost an afterthought. So what does Ragan do for a living? In short, he serves others.
Under Ragan’s leadership, Kize Concepts employs those most in need of work. With a strong culture of giving, the company helps clothe the poor and feed the hungry. Oh yes, and it produces Kize snack bars, made with minimal ingredients and maximum nutrition — which Ragan said he is happy to donate to those in need.
Leap of Faith
Kize Concepts grew out of a dream. Ragan said he always knew he wanted to do something with passion and purpose. After working a corporate job while dabbling part-time in helping others improve their health and nutrition, he felt compelled to make a change.
“I worked on it for about two years on the side, and then I took a leap of faith and quit my job,” Ragan said. “I’ve been going at it ever since.”
The Kize bar recipe was perfected in 2013. In 2014, the bars entered the local Whole Foods Market.
“The awesome people of Oklahoma City really supported us,” he said. “And we ended up doing well.”
Since then, Kize’s production and distribution have soared. Today, you’ll find Kize bars at most OKC grocery stores as well as Whole Foods locations throughout the southwest. In 2020, Walmart added the product to 700 locations nationwide.
However, this success provided a mere springboard for Kize Concepts to achieve something bigger.
The company moved into bigger kitchens and production spaces to keep up with the increase in demand. A few years ago, Ragan built a 10,000-square-foot facility at 3rd Street and Virginia Avenue to house operations. The location — across the street from the Homeless Alliance Day Shelter — is no coincidence.
“The mission at Kize always has been and always will be to change lives for the better,” Ragan said. “I have really grown to feel like this [area] is our home in the last 10 years.”
Kize Concepts partners with Feed the Children and Regional Food Bank to address ongoing hunger issues in the community. In addition, it isn’t uncommon for Ragan to help out strangers he encounters in the parking lot. He’ll give out food and clothing as needed, but he often finds that people yearn for so much more.
“In my experiences interacting with our homeless neighbors, [I’ve found] they can get resources — but who listens to them? Who shows them that they are cared for? Who says, ‘Hey, what’s your name? What’s your story?’ I’ve had people stand out there for hours and tell their story. Then, they cry — just to have somebody who would listen,” Ragan said.
“My equation is resources plus relationship equals real-life change,” he said. “We absolutely can help people with resources, but the ability to get up close and personal — to understand what their real needs are and how you can help them — I think that makes the real difference. And that’s been reinforced to me over our entire Kize history.”
Many employees come to Kize from Hope is Alive, an addiction recovery home, and many of those Ragan hires were previously incarcerated. If there is an opportunity to integrate helping others into the company culture, Ragan said he embraces it.
“We try to have a very people-first focus here, like: ‘Hey, I don’t really care about your past. We all make mistakes,’” Ragan said. “We are trying to have perfect love toward imperfect people, like we’ve had [given] to ourselves, and we’ve had some really great transformation stories.”
Every third Saturday, Ragan opens the company doors and partners with the ComeBack Kid Society to host the ultimate block party. The event provides food and fellowship to more than 200 neighbors every month. Ragan welcomes anyone to take part in Kize’s events. He dreams about someday expanding the love-thy neighbor notion into a citywide movement.
“There are special people in Oklahoma doing special things and really loving people in action, but it takes all of us,” Ragan said. “Why not [OKC] be the city that ends homelessness? It’s a solvable problem. With a committed city of our size, I mean, it could happen.”
In the meantime, Ragan is constantly seeking ways to help others. Kize sales help fund the ongoing service projects. Yes, he said, its bars make an excellent on-the-go snack — but to Ragan, the Kize Concepts team and every life they change, these bars fuel so much more.