Monday, November 5, 2007

Growing a Forest

The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!'
John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

I was just thinking about how growing this business is kind of like growing a forest from scratch. I am still in the process of planting trees and the first few rows are starting to show promise. Meanwhile I have to keep planting while taking care of those promising saplings. But while I am waiting for those small sapling to grow I am going to try planting some bigger more advanced in age trees.

So what are some of those new trees like that are taking up so much of my time?

Jumbo supermarket is a new client of ours. They have our brand in their three top stores. They refer to them as their three P´s; Palermo, Pilar and, uh ...Unicenter. Okay, the word play is supposed to be location, location, location but you know I didn´t think this stuff up. I am just repeating what has been told to me. The pound cakes have been literally flying off the shelves. We actually had stock-outs (sold out) of these products. Everything else has been doing good. I mean it is selling, it´s just not selling out. This is mostly due to them underestimating how the pound cakes were going to perform. This coming weekend we are going to be sampling at the three stores (Thursday at the Palermo store and Sunday at both the Unicenter and Pilar stores -tentatively).

Exporting possibilities: We just finished participating in the first Alimentaria Mercosur Expo at La Rural. The expo was great because they had rounds of meetings set up with supermarket chains from other countries. These meetings were prearranged ahead of time so basically I got a chance to present my products to people that already expressed an interest in seeing them. I had to do my bit of homework and read up on them and their respective countries i.e. Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela. We also had a booth set up so that also took a big chunk out of my day.

Now I am running around and arranging meetings with some of those people. Just this week I have to fly off to Uruguay and Chile. Next week I need to fly to Cordoba as a result of this expo as well. Falabella Chile already has our products in two of their stores: Parque Arauco & La Dehesa. I am going over there to meet some of the people at the stores, hopefully do a little training, and talk about how the sales are doing, and see what we could do to improve those numbers, if they need improving.

And to top this off I am doing all of this during November. Just in case you are not in the baking industry, November and December are absolutely crazy for us. This is Pan Dulce (Panettone) season and we make, what I believe to be, the best Pan Dulce on the planet. When I first came to Argentina I was not a big Pan Dulce person. I started trying out the various Pan Dulce offerings here. I tried just about all of them and I realized that there was one trait that just about all of them shared. They all were made with candied fruit. I hate candied fruit.

We make ours with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, plump juicy raisins and glacé orange peel. Okay, that last one is actually a candied fruit, but one thing is a candied orange peel and something entirely different is a varied colored piece of fruit that you can´t discern a taste from. Anyway, the nuts and fruits are immersed in cognac and we top the whole thing off with a crunchy almond topping.

Last year Falabella ran out of it with one whole week left until Christmas. This time they are ordering a few more and Jumbo is also going to offer them as well. One little guy getting into the Pan Dulce game for us is LeShop.

Hopefully, one day, I will be able to see the trees for the forest and the forest for the trees.

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