Using their great grandmother's recipe, Bob and his brother Joe started McClure's Pickles in 2006 with little to no capital.
Creating the product in Brooklyn, New York, and just outside of Detroit Michigan, they quickly took their family recipe to retailers in their area, offering a pickle that was closest to what they remember making when they were growing up.
Here is the full Q/A Session
Can you give the readers some background information about yourself?
I’m the 30 years old co founder of McClure's Pickles-Detroit branch, I have a Ph.D in Physiology and am a closet classical guitarist.
Can you tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
We are manufacturers of specialty pickled foods, mixers for the gourmet retail, bar and restaurant industry.
We believe the quality of our product is key and make our product in our own facilities.
When did you start the business?
Started the business officially in 2006, making them officially since the age of 6.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
This is our first business. I've been a student since 1999. Started graduate school the same month as starting the business. Just finished graduate school with a Ph.D. in Physiology from Wayne State Medical School in Detroit in December 2010, so school and the business have been operating concurrently.
What can you say was probably the hardest part of setting up the business?
Probably the red tape of government, health codes and general bureaucracy.
How did you raise money to start the business?
We didn't raise much money to start the business. Our parents took out a second mortgage for $50,000 to help fund the start up. We've been operating debt free otherwise.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
We never looked at any competition when we started or formulated the business and don't really do that now. Others make specialty food products but we tend to be friends with them and feed off each other.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish we had started the business earlier.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
We are owner-operators...meaning just about every step of the process we are involved in, in some way either directly or indirectly. Certainly there are divisions of labor within our company, but we are directly in contact with our customers and the people that enjoy our product which is how we measure our success and grow the business.
What is an average workday like for you?
We start production at 5am. If I go to the market, Eastern Market in Detroit, in the summer time I'll wake around 2:30 to pick up the fresh produce from the farmers and be back at the factory by 5:00 to start production. From there we'll hand cut cucumbers for approx. 1 hour at which time we'll take a 20 min break for coffee and begin hand packing, filling and processing the jars. This will last about 3-5 hours depending on the size of production we are doing that day. We'll take a break around lunch while the jars are cooling and meet back around 14:00 to labeling and case pack.
What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?
Being who we are, not pushy and simply making a good product.
How have sales grown in the last few years?
Sales have been more than doubling each year, starting in 2006 at $17,000.
Is the business profitable?
Yes, the business is profitable. The first two years were not profitable, but as sales and production increased we've turned a profit the last three years.
How has your market changed in the past few years? How has your business changed to keep pace?
We've added new products and attracted more customers.
What have been the most crucial things that you've done to grow your business?
Keeping the product the same and not changing our standards.
What plans do you have now to expand your business further?
Looking at larger buildings, expanding work force and equipment and product line.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
We help others on a daily basis. Certainly don't underestimate the time and hard work that it takes to begin this type of operation.