Who do you need on your side when you are building or growing a food business? Your banker? Your buyer? Your realtor? Your family? For those of you who have been there and done that, the list is long.
No matter the size or stage - start-up, medium or large food company you have one thing in common. There is always a moment when you look around to ask exactly how are you going to do it? How are you going to start or expand? What does that process look like? Admittedly some know far more than others through experience, yet the commonality is that you generally come to the same point trying to respond to the market, buyer, regulatory change or new product lines. The "how" need to be figured it out within time and budget constraints and often that is a bit overwhelming.
Conceptualizing the entire system is critical to making the right decisions and why GFC Member, BIll Scott is a supply chain partner extraordinaire, As owner of R.L. Scott and Associates for more than 35 years, he is continually visiting processing plants of every sort, size and location making his expertise invaluable.
I immediately take on the role as if I were the owner – knowing what I know, I advise them as if it was my company and my money. - Bill Scott
A first time caller might be surprised at the number of questions that come at them rapidly as Bill conducts an initial assessment of the goal post. The intake is normally as much as an eye opener to the caller, as it is for Bill. During that discussion the entire system for safe, efficient and effective processing is covered including spacial requirements of the entire process system, equipment utilization, placement and more. This phase of conceptualizing the process and then doing a walk through results in realizing an optimum system, before equipment is ordered, buildings are modified and financial commitments are made.
Once a potential customer and Bill determine they should proceed, Bill says he, "immediately takes on the role as if I were the owner – knowing what I know, I advise them as if it was my company and my money. " The caller may have calling to purchase a piece of equipment but soon they realize they are in a whole different ballgame. They are working with a vested partner.
I'm in business to get better, not to just get by, and I want to be there to enjoy the successes with my customers.
Food processing also includes the manufacturing of nutraceuticals, herbs, oils and the broad landscape of plant products. Often, the "how it is processed" may include allergen isolation, Halal, organic, kosher or gluten free, each of which must be considered during the conceptualization stage. The value of having someone knowledgeable about integrating these and other regulations or designations into the process is a bonus.
We checked back in with Bill last month for an update.
CI: What's new that you can tell us about ?
Bill: As you know, our business was primarily Pacific Northwest with gray boundaries that sometimes expanded around the globe and Alaska, of course. Most recently, I served as the Food Processing Equipment Consultant for the State of Hawaii on the Maui Food Innovation Center (Pilina Project) and the newest project for the State and Leeward Community College (Wahiawa). This follows considerable work on every island with start-ups too manufacturers scaling up for export.
CI: What is the range of size business that your company works with.
Bill: We currently work with a range of $100,000 - $50,000 million. It's diverse in size, products, channels and markets.
CI: You have more than 35 years of experience. If you were starting out or scaling a food or food-related business, what would be your best advice?
Bill: It's important to remember that a food business IS a business. 1) The successful do what they say, when they say they are going to do it. 2) They engage in expertise. Don't be one of the best, be the best - know everything you can know. There is a process of learning and engagement that must occur day in and day out. Commit. 3) If you do 1 and 2, the money will work itself out.
CI: Do you have any special insights you’d like to share about changes ahead in the food supply chain ahead?
Bill: Products and product forms are changing rapidly, driven by the market. Consumers are seeking simple with fewer ingredients. Manufacturers are seeking ways to move away from ultra processed and seeking out a minimally processed system. Additionally, there are a broad array of new products in the hydration powder, health and wellness space. Consumers are driving new products and packaging like never before.
R.L. Scott & Associates, Inc.