By IKE WILSON
The Frederick News-Post
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Tony and Abigail Brusco underestimated how fast their home grocery delivery venture would grow.
The initial idea, conceived in 2009, was to deliver fresh local produce from farms to homes from the back of a pickup truck. They targeted people who were not able to make it to farmers markets and needed a more convenient way to get local foods.
“As we began to talk to people and get ideas on who this might work for, we began to realize we had underestimated the demand,” Tony said.
He called a friend who was a web designer, and they put together South Mountain Veggies.com.
In its first season, the business made deliveries to about 250 homes. Now in its third year, South Mountain Veggies is making about 900 home deliveries per week using four “veggie” vans.
The business started working with a handful of growers. Today, the company works with more than 150 trusted farms in the area, Tony said.
Working with many farmers allows for a variety of fruits and vegetables, and the company’s delivery areas have expanded to include many counties in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
“As the business grew, I had to temper the growth with supply,” said Tony, who operates the business with his wife,
The high demand for home delivery can be explained by the fact that people’s schedules are getting busier, and shopping is not a lot of fun anymore, Abigail said.
In its early stages, the couple saw the business as a convenient alternative to a farmers market.
Last year, the couple began to notice their service was also encouraging and supporting a healthy lifestyle and diet.
“We saw it in our own family, where our kids got used to having fresh fruits and veggies always in the house, and therefore they were eating better,” Abigail said. The couple heard similar experiences from their customers so they embraced the tag line, “making healthy living easy,” Abigail said.
South Mountain Veggies employs 12 full-time workers and one part time, and plans are to increase that number to 13 or 14 full-time employees this year, the couple said.
But being in business comes with low points, and the Bruscos have had their share.
“Business and challenges go hand in hand, and over the past three years, we have had our share,” Tony said.
At times it has been difficult finding farmers to work with and figuring how to create a balanced, attractive menu. More recently, the business has had a long stretch of bad luck with truck repairs, Tony said.
But business owners have to be resilient when things don’t go their way, he said.
“Resilience, when referring to an object, represents how far the object can stretch, or its elastic potential. When talking
about people or organizations, resilience is the ability to overcome difficulties and become stronger and more flexible,” Tony said.
Abigail and Tony came to their new business with a lot of management experience. They had managed South Mountain Creamery, owned by Abby’s parents, Randy and Karen Sowers, for nine years before venturing out on their own.
“That’s where we learned our craft,” Tony Brusco said.
South Mountain Veggies expanded its product lines last year to include fresh artisan breads, rolls and pastries, baked daily to order, Abigail said. They also introduced pickles, granola and gluten-free products to support people with special diet needs.
Starting your own business calls for looking within, Abigail said. “Each dream in your heart lies within reach, if you just
believe in yourself.”
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)