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.


miss tango said...

Congrats Frank, it´s nice to see someone investing in Argentina succeed!

Anonymous said...

I must admit, your pan dulce sounds delicious - now I'm hungry again, thank you!;)

Unknown said...

Hi Holly and Coog,

Thanks for the kind words!

Coog you now have a couple of spots in Caballito to try it at as well. The Caballito stores are selling very well I might add.

Holly, I am not out of the woods yet, but everyday I do see us going in the right direction. Keep your fingers crossed, I know I have mine crossed every day.

Longhorn Dave said...

Go Frank Go.. Most of us expats come down here for a break from it all. It is fun to see you succeeding doing with entrepreneur thing down here.

I'm having fun watching from the sidelines. Wish you continued success. Cheers from the cheap seats.


SFO said...

Frank -

I've eaten my way through all your different products that Jumbo carries :-) All except the Pan Dulce which I guess they aren't stocking yet (although they already have 7 huge pallets of various brands at the back of the Palermo store).

My vote for "best cookie" goes to the chocolate and walnut cantucci!

How much does the government asesss in export retenciones? Do you think that will increase in the near future?


Unknown said...

Hi John,

That is very nice to hear. Actually Jumbo just placed their order for Pan Dulces and they will have them shortly. Probably by this weekend. They will not be by the pallet like most of their pan dulces. The first time they try a pan dulce they tend to underbuy so we are pretty sure that at some point they will sell out.

Also, I think that the sampling they are going to have in Jumbo is going to be with a sweet white wine to go with the biscotti. That way we get to not only share the costs of the sampling with the dessert wine maker, but we get to show everyone another way to consume the biscotti. I tried it at home and I really liked it.

I think our retentions are at 5% and you never know what is going to happen. However, if you look at what has been going on, the money should be on retentions going up.

SFO said...

That's how I've had biscotti in Italy - with a nice desert wine (dunking allowed!).

Jumbo Palermo seems to have had quite a few stocking problems lately. For three days this week they didn't have any agua con gas!

At least they're stocking your products in three different sections of the store. I always find it difficult to figure out where particular items may be located. And they're always moving things around.


Unknown said...

Passed by your store this week and bought a bag of cookies and some brownies; both excellent. Luckily I live 5 blocks from the Guatemala shop, so I'll be back soon.


Unknown said...

Hi John,

Yeah, they are trying to figure out where is the best place to put them right now. The second week the cookies were in they were blocked by a big stand and well that was annoying. Obviously, sales for that store (Palermo) went down compared to the other stores. The store that sells the most seems to be Pilar at the moment.

Thanks for stopping by! I am glad we are conveniently located for you. Next time say hello.


SFO said...

At last! I found the pan dulce in Jumbo ... in the pan dulce section. Who woulda guessed? :-)

I wasn't even tempted by the 9 peso imitation.

I also saw that the cookies have now appeared on the imported food aisle. Must be due to the dual English labelling.


SFO said...

And when I was "jumboing" today, I saw the display stand where a young lady was demonstrating the art of "dunking", and offering samples.


Unknown said...

Hi John,

Yep, I am glad someone has seen her since I have been frustrated by my lack of luck at catching her in the act. I just have a knack for showing up during their breaks.

Anyway, soon we will be sampling the rest of the products as well as the pan dulce (or panettone for those of you north of the equator).

SFO said...

I see the Battistero panettone from Italy has arrived in Jumbo, and is about the same price point as yours.
Of course if you want it in a decorative tin, it's 30 pesos extra!


Unknown said...

Hi John,

Great observation! Some other things to think about... they had to fill up a whole container and ship it to Argentina so all the added costs of importing/exporting/logistics have to go into that price as well.