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Podcasts

Midwestern BioAg and The Business of Biological Farming

Midwestern BioAg and The Business of Biological Farming

Biological farming is treating your farm like an ecosystem and preserving the long-term health of the soil. Midwestern BioAg is a company that provides farmers with consulting and products (mostly inputs) that help their farm’s yields, resiliency and profitability by using biological farming methods i.e. treating your farm like an ecosystem and preserving the long-term health of the soil. While the company started focused on small dairy producers (50-400 cows in a herd), their customers now include large farms and vegetable producers.

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New Product Development and Rollouts For National Food and Beverage Brands: A Process

New Product Development and Rollouts For National Food and Beverage Brands: A Process

Big food and beverage companies start the new product development process by focusing on their target consumer and the value proposition they are offering that consumer through their brand promise. Discovering and defining a consumer driven product is much harder to do than making a food product. For big food companies, the new product development process includes “screening people in” i.e. finding people who already your target customer and have the right attitude toward your potential new product but are still finding their needs unmet in the current marketplace.

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Shared-Use Kitchens And Their Tenants: A Shared Path to Financial Sustainability

Shared-Use Kitchens And Their Tenants: A Shared Path to Financial Sustainability

FEED Kitchens is a shared-use kitchen that also serves as a business incubator for food businesses like small-batch bakers, sauce makers, caterers and food carts. Started with $1.4 million of initial investment, their current location includes 5,400 square feet and 3 and 1/2 full time equivalent employees. Their kitchen is in use on average about 35% of the time. They would need to be at about 45%-50% use (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) with a few more “anchor tenants” using the space on a more regular basis to completely cover costs with fee-for-service revenue only. Currently, about 80% of their revenue is from fee-for-service use of the kitchen.

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Considering In-House Food Manufacturing? Waste Can Be A Resource That Improves Your Bottom Line

Considering In-House Food Manufacturing? Waste Can Be A Resource That Improves Your Bottom Line

Zero Waste Facility Certification can improve food businesses’ bottom lines while helping them meet existing standards for building design, construction and operations. LEED and Zero Waste Facility Certification also give them a framework to exceed standards where it makes business sense. For example, when Tera Johnson (the Edible-Alpha™ podcast host) built a whey protein processing plant for teraswhey®, capturing waste heat from the boiler to preheat the drier made both environmental and business sense because it saved money and because those practices resonated with teraswhey®’s target consumer.

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How Much Is My Food Company Worth? Valuations With LBW Wealth

How Much Is My Food Company Worth? Valuations With LBW Wealth

Company valuations should be done based on a rational justification of the future growth rate and future earnings of the company, as well as the fundamentals of the business model. For example, whether the company is defensibly unique and how long its competitive advantage can be sustained are both key drivers of a company’s value.

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SBA 504 Loans with Diane Byler of WBD

SBA 504 Loans with Diane Byler of WBD

An SBA 504 loan is a special product that can only be offered by a Certified Development Company (CDC) like WBD in partnership with a local lender. The 504 loan is designed to help small businesses grow and create jobs by financing fixed assets like real estate and equipment. Qualified borrowers receive long terms (20 years for real estate, 10 years for equipment); low, fixed rates and lower down payments (10%). The 504 cannot be used to do working capital but can be used in refinancing other loans under certain circumstances as well as for the “soft costs” associated with the project like appraisal, contingency, attorney fees, engineering, title, bank fees and inspection.

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Food Hubs with Tara Roberts-Turner of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative

Food Hubs with Tara Roberts-Turner of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative

This Hub realized it needed to reach at least $3.3 million in sales to break even, and the Hub broke even on a net income basis in 2016 despite the poor prices for produce. To maintain their margins, they built the Hub’s capacity through adequate staffing while also only spending on essentials and taking advantage of their uniquely cheap warehouse space of $800 per month for a 10,000 square foot facility. They also maintain their margins by having their warehouse serve only cooling and aggregation/distribution functions, rather than other forms of value-added processing that would require them to sell millions more dollars of produce every year to cover the added staff, warehouse and quality assurance capacity needed.

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Farm Credit With Paul Dietmann of Badgerland Financial (Now Compeer)

Farm Credit With Paul Dietmann of Badgerland Financial (Now Compeer)

The Farm Credit system consists of a farmer owned, farmer led co-ops which primarily lend to farmers and any agriculture producers anywhere in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, including manufacturing companies if majority owned by farmers. The book Fearless Farm Finances is a a farmer-friendly reference guide for all things financial relating to farming enterprises.

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Black Earth Meats Evolves Into Conscious Carnivore

Black Earth Meats Evolves Into Conscious Carnivore

Bartlett Durand of Conscious Carnivore, a whole animal butcher shop in Madison, WI talks about how Black Earth Meats (Black Earth, Wisconsin) evolved into Conscious Carnivore. The craft of cutting meat takes a long time to learn, and because Black Earth Meats operated at a human scale that honored the humans and the animals, his employees and animals were happy. However, the town of Black Earth eventually forced Black Earth Meats to shut down its operations. Conscious Carnivore remains open and thriving, educating people about where their meat comes from and how to cook it.

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Biological Farming and Human Scale Meat

Biological Farming and Human Scale Meat

Bartlett Durand worked with his father-in-law Gary Zimmer on Otter Creek farm, working with a local cheese maker to make a delicious, truly seasonal cheddar cheese. Bartlett saw huge demand for local/organic meats in his work with Otter Creek. However, there wasn’t consistent throughput and quality to properly serve consumers and restaurants. Rather than scaling up to compete with large-scale industrialized meat processors or launching a direct to consumer farm of his own to meet this demand, Bartlett began aggregating meat from existing local farms under the brand Black Earth Meats.

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