I can't say life didn't change in 2013 after the passing of my husband and owner Michael Brown. We had a huge warehouse and employees, a board, an advisory committee, and memberships to the highest clubs and food service industry groups.
What made this more difficult is shortly before Michael unexpectedly passed away, and by shortly, I mean like a month, I lost my younger sister and we had just relocated to help my niece in her new life without her mom.
We left the warehouse shortly after as our main customer- which was at the time the US Government, couldn't be sustained without the support of Michael and all of his unique sales abilities. This is part of what drove our retail sales, having the ability to have more than one profit center, and pay lots of brokers.
In 2017, I relocated our company back to Amador County, where we lived, and took up a very small warehouse with two employees. We had orders from local stores, a few food distributors, connected our Amazon account, and sold direct to several restaurants. Life was going ok.
Covid 19, changed so much for us as it did for many other foodservice established companies. Restaurants we sold too for many years went out of business; trucks picking up product for deliveries lost orders and never made the shipments happen; payments did not get made even though product was shipped and confirmed; lead time and everything tripled and quadrupled; orders that we did have incoming sometimes didn't even show up; bag companies or ingredients that we used stopped production all together. I wasn't prepared for the ongoing disaster that would trickle down, even though I have yet to get Covid! Now that I put that in writing that will probably change too!
In 2020, my new partner found out his father had two types of cancer, and so we made the decision to relocate closer to them and moved to North Carolina. As someone who grew up as a forever Californian is/was in for a huge change. I left behind all I knew and all I had strived for, and left my families ranch in Amador County along with, llamas, goats, sheep, geese, and chickens. Oh, I can't forget I left my family and friends, but the animals made missing Michael a little easier as I had someone to care for.
I took our cat and dog on a cross country trip, and we made our way through Arizona, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. I specifically remember Oklahoma because I had the best Italian food ever! That could also be due to the breakdown I had one day driving over 8 hours. Yes, it gets to you.
We made it here to our new home in North Carolina, where I found a small kitchen to work out of and trying this entrepreneurship again. I think its ok to say I just turned 50 years old, and that means I have been associated with Martha's in some way for 30 years! This time I don't have any employees. I don't own a warehouse or truck, large equipment or much anymore. I don't have Michael who started this company and made so many successful goals along the way. I started over with a recipe book, large mixing bowls, and a label machine. If you try and call us, you will get a voicemail every time, as I don't have a receptionist, and it's an online service that has my voicemails set up. (I notice I still say us after all this time). I mix orders as they come in, I order labels as I run out, I order bags when I am down to my last one. The lead time is crazy because I don't keep too much inventory, but that is something I am working to improve.
I have established a small ordering system, built excel spreadsheets, and trying this "owning a business again". I have ingredients in place and working on a new system to ship orders faster and will try food distribution again soon.
If you have been a customer for a while, I am sure you have first-hand knowledge of orders taking a week or 4 weeks. The only good thing is you don't have to mail me an order and check like we use to do back in the 90's! Or FAX! Can you imagine??
I am trying and I just wanted to reach out and say thank you. We are going into the holiday season 2023, and I will try my best and work to succeed.
Happy Thanksgiving to you,