McClary Bros. manufactures drinking vinegars, Colonial-era cocktail and soda mixers in Detroit, MI. Jess Sanchez McClary is the founder and CEO. She started the company from her home kitchen in 2012. McClary Bros. products are now served or sold in over 1000 locations in 27 states.

Sanchez McClary shares that when starting her business, finding ways to access capital was a challenge, and she shares how working together as a team has helped to make the company what it is today — a growing success story!

“Access to capital makes growing a small business very challenging, particularly in the food industry. When you have a hot concept in the health or tech sector, you can find VCs and angel investors for days, but food manufacturing takes longer to see a return on investment. On top of that, food manufacturing is expensive! It’s absolutely critical that facilities are up to the most stringent of health code standards, and that the staff making the food products is attentive and well trained. It’s too important to the reputation and quality of a food company to skimp when it comes to food safety.”

“Collaboration is key and often the solution to many problems. When we couldn’t afford to spend the money we’d like on new equipment, marketing efforts, professional services, etc., we found the best solution was shared resources. We’d share a booth with another company at a trade show or rented a label applicator from our label company until we could afford to buy a new one. It not only helps ease the tension on our cash flow, but allows us to build a network or friends and allies. Those are invaluable.”

“Additionally, we are a small but strong team, and we all wear many hats. Any entrepreneur will tell you that they fill many roles at any given time to fill in wherever the business needs it. We have that vision and adaptability across what has now grown to a team of six. We all accept and understand that while we each have our own strengths, and that’s our primary focus, we may be needed to step in and help a team member when things get busy or crazy or both, and they do. McClary Bros. wouldn’t be what it is today without the team we have, pulling their own weight and then some!”

“We may not solve every need this way, but it forces us to be a more dynamic, more versatile company. We’ve become so used to finding ‘creative solutions’ to our problems that ‘creative solutions’ have become our go-to with new challenges.”

This piece is part one of a two-part series exploring how one business owner successfully started a small business in the food industry.

Part 2: McClary Bros. CEO Recommends 5 Important Food Safety Tips All Customers Expect

This article was written by Michelle Guilbeau for Small Business Pulse

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