Bartlett Durand became an entrepreneur in 2008 when, while working on his wife’s family farm in Spring Green, he took the opportunity to purchase the local meat processing company that handled the family farm’s beef. At that time, Black Earth Meats employed just six people; today it employs 37. In fall 2013, the company celebrated the opening of its first retail outlet at Shorewood Village in Madison.
In 2011, Durand recognized that he needed strategic advice to help him grow Black Earth Meats and start the retail store. The Wisconsin SBDC connected him with SBDC food and finance specialist, Tera Johnson.
“We went to see the SBDC to work with them to develop proformas, analyze the business and get a grasp on everything,” says Durand.
Johnson, founder of teraswhey®, a company that she grew to international status and then sold, shares her knowledge and experience in food business with entrepreneurs throughout Wisconsin. From 2011 to2013, Johnson helped Durand grow Black Earth Meats and secure funding for the retail store that opened this fall.
“Having come from the processing world, Tera really understood what our issues were. That kind of personal coaching and counseling was tremendous,” says Durand who takes pride in offering locally raised and processed beef that is antibiotic-free and humanely handled.
Durand sees the retail shop as a way to make the final connection from farm to consumer. “The concept behind it is bringing all that we have to where the people are,” he says. “From farmer to processor to retail, and it all happens in that small tight community with employees fully engaged along the way.”