In 2008, Andy and Beverly McDowell quit their paycheck jobs in Indianapolis and moved to the small farm that had been Andy's childhood home. “Our hearts were always on the farm,” say the McDowells. Together, they started Hidden Pond Farm, LLC, a food business specializing in fermented treats like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, which they sell to health food stores and co-ops.
“We started small, with little capital, but growth was brisk and within three years we had built our own state certified food facility in our barn” say the McDowells. Now in its ninth year, Hidden Pond Farm is one of the largest fermented food producers in Indiana.
Because fermented food is one of the fastest-growing types of food sold in health food stores, the McDowells did not have to do much in the way of marketing for the first few years of their business. However, as competition has grown and their business has expanded, they decided to seek guidance from SCORE.
The McDowells worked with SCORE mentor Bob Anders, who helped them to hire employees, create a five-year vision, carry out product testing, deal with potential buyers, and navigate marketing, labeling, and advertising.
“Our main challenges have been marketing and growth, though we’ve discussed virtually all aspects of our business with Bob Anders and his advice and support have been invaluable. Bob had a great talent for helping us to think outside the box and expand our options.” The McDowells credit Anders with being “a steady hand” as they faced the challenge of business growth.
Since 2014, when the McDowells first sought mentoring from SCORE, their business has doubled. They’ve also built their own food facility, kept up with the rising competition and started a second business selling pastured beef and pork.