Adam Parks and his family have worked so hard to create a local, sustainable meat company in Sonoma County. He’s fought many battles with permitting, slaughterhouses, pricing and the inherent difficulties of being at the forefront of this movement. And now, he’s asking the food community to give him a hand.
He’s making a big ask, but unlike many Kickstarter campaigns, has a proven record of selling a great product. Adam has always been super helpful to me, a great supporter of the food community and a hardworking local guy.
I’ll let you make the decision whether you can afford to help out. He’s asking for folks to donate $50, buy meat from his stand, or even just buy a tree at his Christmas tree farm.
If you’re thinking about donating this holiday, maybe this is the place to start.
This is by far the scariest thing I have ever written. Our business is in trouble and I have to ask for help. I’m pretty good when it comes to proposals and showing potential investors our plan and why we will succeed. But I have never had to figure out what to do when things look bleak. And so, I am writing this to ask for your help. I truly believe in what we do and I am 100% confident that we can make this company successful. I decided to write this in the hope that explaining our situation to our faithful will do a couple of things: generate a much needed cash infusion quickly and get some fresh business management ideas from others that have been where I am before. So here goes…
This has been a very tough year for Victorian Farmstead and I take most of the blame. In the early part of this year the cost of meat started to rapidly rise. Prices on commodity beef, pork and chicken rose quickly as talk of the ongoing drought reached panic stage everywhere. My ranchers did what they were supposed to do and raised the price I paid for whole animals accordingly. I decided to hold my ground. I thought that raising my prices would be the wrong message to send. I thought I could make up the cost difference through increasing volume. I was very wrong.
What happened is that by the time I realized how poorly that decision affected our bottom line, I had put us in a fairly deep hole. We got behind with our suppliers and processors. I am very fortunate that we had good relationships to begin with, as they have ALL bent over backwards to stretch terms as far as I could hope. And for the most part I have been able to keep up with these payment plans. Now we are at a point where the weekly struggle to meet those terms is getting harder and harder.
The problem is the “got behind” money. As most of you know, we raised prices in the early fall. Much to my chagrin, it did not affect volume much at all. Had I done that early this year we would not be in the situation we are now. Hind sight is, as they say, 20/20. But when I look at the revenue today, we would be getting by if we didn’t have to pay the weekly payments on the past due amounts. We would not be rolling in it or anything close to that, but our weekly revenue covers our weekly expenses. What is happening is that the revenue is not supporting the amount we have to pay to catch up. How do I fix that?
The only solution I can see is a significant cash infusion, and quick. I don’t have the time or credit score to go to a bank. So what do I have to offer? I have a reputation and a history with you, my supporters and customers. I have come up with a plan that will do everything we need to get over this rough patch. I am asking each one of you to put up $50. If everyone that opens my newsletter each week does this, we can not only get out of the hole we are in, but we can pay for the professional advice I need to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In exchange we will send you a $50 gift certificate good after April 1st, 2015. This will give us time to recuperate and plan. If you want to pitch in more or less that’s great too. $50 just seemed to be the most meaningful amount I could come up with.
I know that there are those out there that will say “why am I going to donate to a for-profit business?”. Here is my answer. What we have built is more than just a meat company. For so many it has become their only trusted source of protein. We, as a company, have become a resource. We make sure that you are getting what you pay for, that the animals are treated the way they should be, fed what they should be and harvested the way they should be. We have educated ourselves so that when you ask us what to buy, or how to cook it, we can answer with confidence. At the end of the day, I am hoping that I have built up $50 or more of goodwill with every one of you.
You should also know that this was a very hard decision to make. I have almost as much pride as confidence and I am setting that pride aside to ask for your help. I know this also comes at a time of year where you are probably inundated with requests for handouts and donations. I would prefer this wasn’t seen that way but I understand why it will be. We have considered in the past doing a Kickstarter campaign, but there is not the time to do something formal at this point. I have set up a PayPal account or you can drop a check in the mail. Just make sure that you include your email address so we can send the gift certificate.
What else can be done if you can’t afford to donate? Place your holiday orders and shop at the farmers market this weekend! Every order we get helps. Come see us this weekend and buy a Christmas tree! The Christmas tree farm is a part of our overall business and every dollar counts. Pass this email on to someone you know that might be able to help and share with them your thoughts on the importance of our company to you. We see odd things go viral on the web all the time these days. If everyone who reads this shares it with their social media network, word will spread quickly. Help me get the message out that this business we built and love is worth saving!
Finally, thank you for reading this. If nothing comes of it, I will deal with it. I’m not scared of failing personally. I am scared of failing my wife and kids and my mom. But even if I do, they will still love me and help me get back up on my feet. I am terrified of failing those that have supported us through the first 5 years. I’m scared of failing my employees. And I am scared that many who count on us will not have access to the quality of protein that we provide. And so I’m asking you to take a $50 risk that we can turn this thing around. Thank you for your consideration.
Owner, Victorian Farmstead