As a founding member of Slow Money’s angel investor network Foodshed Investors New York (FINY), I am proud to have invested in a broad array of businesses that are having a positive impact on the way our food system functions. One investment I am particularly excited about is in Fleisher’s Craft Butchery.
Fleisher’s is well known for being an American pioneer in nose-to-tail butchery and in local sourcing of pastured meat. They also trained many of the new generation of nose-to-tail butchers who proliferating and changing the food retail landscape in our cities and towns. A few years ago, the original Fleisher’s merged with one of its offspring, Craft Butchers (started by graduates of the training program). Since then they have been redefining how a local food company operates and grow.
Fleisher’s will be the subject of this year’s Anatomy of a Deal at Food + Enterprise, which explores the evolution of a business through panel discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders: executives, employees, investors, suppliers, and customers. It should be a fascinating look inside one of the most promising businesses in the local food economy.
There are two issues that will be explored at Food+Enterprise in depth that are of particular interest to me: One is how the company has grown by integrating vertically. Originally just a butcher shop in Kingston, NY (famous for ordering one beef a week and selling every bit of it), Fleisher’s now has its own USDA-compliant processing facility in Red Hook, Brooklyn, its own restaurant in Westport, CT, in addition to having four, soon to be five, butcher shops. And they are investing deeper into the sourcing of their animals and of their value-added products. Another issue that will be explored in Anatomy of a Deal, is the challenge of being a medium-sized company. As someone who has experience running such businesses, I can personally relate to many of these problems. I sometimes joke that the problems facing start-ups are just a taste of what is in store for successful entrepreneurs.
Fleisher’s contributes to our sustainable food ecosystem through its approach to the health of its people, animals, and environment. But I consider of equal benefit the pioneering work they do in developing a business model that can permit an ethical company to succeed against unbalanced competition.
Photo thanks to: Fleisher’s Craft Butchery