Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Julia

Everyone can blame Julia for this. She asked.... (and, no, I am not crying silently to myself because no else asked!)

She asked about Shannon's threatened arrest, and to tell the story it needs a little background. I'll try to be brief. I said, "TRY."

Many moons ago, when my grandfather was in charge, another sauerkraut factory contracted with "us" to bag sauerkraut for them. We had no direct orders from customers. All of the orders came through this company. This worked for many years, even after my grandfather's death and my Dad owned the company.

Now, the owner of this other company died a few years back and his daughter took control. Unfortunately, she was not as good at running the business. In my husband's opinion, she started treating the customers poorly. I'm not exactly sure about the time, but when the contract came up, my Dad wanted the option to sell his own label and to sell to anyone he wanted to. So, we did not contract with this company again. Instead, we were more of a free agent. We would still sell to this company, but we would not be limited to this company alone.

Well, this woman ended up selling her company(and the customers with it) to our and, formerly, her competition. The traitor. A company that recently was fined about $50,000 for code violations. I'm just saying.......

Now our competitor wanted to keep us around for 5 years. Meaning, we would sell through them and in 5 years we would.....disappear. Not so fast, you mean, old company. We didn't want to go down without a fight. A couple of the customers wanted to stay with us, and fought to do so. Hebrew National (yes, our kraut is blessed by a rabbi yearly) was the main one we needed to keep in order to have a good chance of staying in business. They wanted to stay with us. Yahhhh!

Some customers we did lose, so there was an obvious transition period. The customers pays for there packaging so it belongs to them. We had most of it because we were still packaging for them. The other factory wanted to begin packaging so it was agreed that they would come and get SOME of the materials. Well, when the truck driver got there, they said that were told to pick up ALL of the stuff. Ummmm, nooooo, we still need it. We were being nice to give them some of the stuff because there was no official order or paper work to show that they were legally entitled to it. My husband told them, "No." See, my parents were on vacation and Shannon was left to deal with this. Lucky, him.

Shannon talked to someone in charge at the other company and this person threatened to call the police and have him arrested. Shannon told him to go ahead and call. This man, also, told Shannon that he would tell the truck drivers to just break in and take the stuff. You're kidding, right? Go ahead and try. He carries...if you know what I mean. (No, he wouldn't have pulled out a weapon, but he would have been tempted to.)

Well, there were many phone calls between this other man in charge (I have a few names I could call him, but I shall refrain), Shannon and my dad in Florida. In the end, the police were never called, no one was arrested, and the other company only got the stuff that was agreed upon before hand.

Wow, at the time this was happening this story seemed interesting. Now that I've taken the time to write it's something less than thrilling. It would have been a better story if he was arrested. Next time I tell it, I'll make myself the heroic wife of a wrongly convicted prisoner. That would be more entertaining. For now, I'll stick with the truth.

Julia, to answer your other question...Yes, my Dad has plans to send Shannon to other stores(i.e. Wegman's) to present the product. He doesn't mind. He said it was fun and he enjoyed doing it more than he thought he would. I would hate it, but since I don't have to do it, I don't have to worry about it.

And because Stacy said that no post was complete without a man with his first turkey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jen, just because you asked, here is a picture of the best sauerkraut in America, nay the best sauerkraut in the world!

It went well..Thank you so much for your prayers!

My husband did confess to being a bit nervous. He has spoken in front of groups before, but it was always about God, not sauerkraut. I think he prefers to talk about God.
I texted him (the word "texted" sounds wrong to me, but I guess it's the correct term) when I thought the presentation was over. He called me right away. He started off telling me how horrible it was, but did eventually tell me the truth. The brat! He said it was fun. FUN? Fun, getting up in front of a bunch of strange business men and trying to convince them why they should sell you product? I wouldn't find this fun. My stomach had been in knots all morning and I contributed nothing, but prayer, to this project.

They may be interested in selling our one pound bags. Normally, bags are sold in 2 pound bags, but since they already sell that, they may be interested in the smaller bags. We should know something in about a month or so.

For all 2 of you who want the "story" behind the name (BTW, thanks to the rest of you for caring so much. :P) it's really not all that interesting. You'll be disappointed. Anyway, last January my Dad was no longer under a contract that prohibited him from selling his own product. There's a story behind that to, and an interesting part that included my husband being threatened with an arrest, but I digress. We all came up with a list of names. Most of which had something to do with Family. It's been a family owned business for over 100 years and we wanted to emphasize the point. We couldn't just do Tobin's because it was already being used for hot dogs. So it was Family this, Family that but most of the names we came up with someone, somewhere was already using it. Finally, we settled on Family Heritage. Everyone liked it and it had meaning. Well, the lawyer didn't do a very good job at checking because when everything was just getting settled we found out that there was a family bakery in Texas that was already using that name. The horror. I guess we still could have used it, but who knows if it would lead to any trouble later.

So TOBEE'S Sauerkraut it is. My nickname at college was Toby so I think of this as my brand. Actually, it's more due to the fact that a decision had to be made. Tobee is close to Tobin. Instead of being meaningful we went with quirky.

Well, I hope I didn't bore you too much with the story.
Julia...about the skunk smell. If he had not said something, I would have just chalked it up to the normal, "I'm home from the sauerkraut factory" smell. Once he did mention it, there was a trace of the skunk, barely there, but distinctly skunk. Hopefully, it washed right off.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Family Business and Prayer Request

Victor Preserving Company has been around for over 100 years. It was started by my great-grandfather and other business men (who are all of lesser importance, of course) all of those years ago. I'm not exactly sure how things were divided over the years. I do know that the company was involve in packaging various foods. I also know that at one time, after the death of my great-grandfather, my great-grandmother ran the company. This was a time when women did not run businesses, as a rule.
My grandfather ended up with the building in the town that I live. My Dad owns it now. When my Dad was growing up they used to do cherries and sauerkraut. Today, sadly, sauerkraut is the only thing left. I often would bemoan the fact that the family business was sauerkraut and not chocolate. Imagine how many friends I would have had if I could give away chocolate. (Imagine how much I would weigh now if I could eat free chocolate! It scares me just thinking about it).
Anyhow, sauerkraut paid the bills and since my Dad offered my wonderful husband a job 10 years ago (has it really been that long?) it still pays the bills. When my husband told me about the job offer my first thought was, "NOOOOOOOO!" You see, there is a certain odor associated with the sauerkraut biz and, believe it or not, it's not a pleasant odor. Not chocolaty at all. I thought I had gotten away from that smell when I married my man, but don't be fooled, God has a sense of humor. Sauerkraut: my past, present, and, until further notice, my future.
Just this year, the company began to package sauerkraut under our own label. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. We have packaged and still package under other names for other companies, but because of contractual obligations we were unable to package our own brand. Now , we can. This means that we have to convince stores to sell our product.
I said all of that to say this.....pray for my husband. Tomorrow (Tues.), Shannon has a presentation at Top's Friendly Markets headquarters. He has to try to convince them why they should sell our sauerkraut as opposed to the competition. They won't accept, "It's better sauerkraut, duh?" so a presentation was put together with the help of Steve Brown. Thanks, Steve.
Tomorrow it's...."show time". I think I'm more nervous than he is, but if you have a spare moment (like right now) say a few words of prayer for him. It's kind of a "long shot" ( I like quotes...and parentheses, I use them often), but you should always try to grow and improve in life..... even if it is just sauerkraut.

I can't leave without a little advertisement....When you think sauerkraut, think TOBEE'S. There's a story behind the name, but I've already typed too long and I really don't enjoy writing so I'll have to leave that for another time. Oh, who am I kidding, I'll never write a story about the name. You'll just have to live without that knowledge.

My sister just "yelled" at me on Facebook that I failed to mention that HER husband designed the bag. So.... my brother-in-law designed the bag for TOBEE'S Sauerkraut. There, my conscience is clear. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My In-Laws

My in-laws came to visit for Brianna's kindergarten graduation. They came on a Wednesday and left on Saturday morning. Shannon's dad does not like being a way from home. It seems no one can take care of his chickens quite as lovingly as he can care for them. Therefore, the visit was short, but sweet.

Of course they brought my 16 (soon to be 17) year old sister-in-law, Shawna. I met her when she was just 2 months old. I can't believe that next year she will be finishing high school. She has always been wonderful with my children. When we visit Michigan, I rarely see my children because she is always willing to take them outside and play. Because her three brothers are all much older, she was really raised as an only child. She has been spoiled, but not "spoiled" by all of the spoiling. (Yes, I realize that the last sentence sounds funny, but you get my meaning.)

Well, they've got to earn their keep somehow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

HBCS Graduation

Just a few pictures of the graduation. It is difficult to take a good picture in the auditorium, add my lack of skill and the results are far from good. I should simply blame my camera, but I think it has more to do with unwillingness to sit and figure the thing out. (Yes, I know I really need to read the manual!)