20 Years Went By Fast
Wow, 20 years went by fast. It’s hard to believe Pro Food Systems was started as a coffee/cappuccino company on July 13, 1998. Not only was the coffee black, but my hair was too!
My wife Julie and I had our first of three daughters just three months earlier in April of 1998. Julie and I had made a family decision for her to be a “stay at home mom”. I put “stay at home mom” in parenthesis because Julie has been far from that. She’s dedicated the past 20 years to raising our three beautiful daughters and tolerating the work ethic necessary for me to support the growth of PFSbrands.
It Takes GRITT
In early 1998, I was a new dad but I was searching desperately for a business idea that I could grow. I found a unique opportunity with some Saeco push button cappuccino machines that I thought was the way to prosperity. This opportunity allowed me to sell and maintain the cappuccino machines on evenings and weekends so it didn’t negatively affect the work I was doing at my full time job. This “coffee business” was the first of many business failures yet I was determined to establish a thriving business of my own. You might say that I developed GRITT early in my entrepreneurial life.
In March of 1999 I decided to leave my full time employment and start Champs Chicken. In a matter of one year Julie and I went from a double income, no kid family, to a one kid, no income family. The early years were rough. Often times I wondering where the next sale was going to come from so I could feed our family and make the mortgage payments. I was too proud to ask anyone else for financial support (other than a bank).
Finding a Way to Succeed
People often ask me, “How’d you do it”? “How were you able to take the risk”?
In looking back, I think the answer lies somewhere between stupidity and confidence. I didn’t know what I didn’t know in 1998. However, I knew that I wanted to do something on my own – I knew that I now had two very important individuals counting on me to provide an income. That was all the motivation I needed to get my butt out of bed every day and find a way to succeed.
The Champs Chicken brand turned out to be a winner. This brand has proven to be the driving force of our growth over the past 20 years. We’ve been able to grow at a double digit pace year over year, despite operating through two recessions. Our growth is a testament to all of the employees that have contributed over the past 20 years. It’s also a testament to all of the current employee owners that continue to strive for excellence. We also need to be mindful of the support we have received from all of our past and present customers that have purchased equipment and products during the past two decades.
Of course I remember the tough times. I remain humble and grateful to have been on this challenging journey for the past 20 years. I’m thankful that Julie encouraged me to take the leap, I’m thankful for parents and in-laws that supported the risk, I’m thankful for my three daughters that have endured unique challenges as a result of our business, and I’m thankful for the unbelievable suppliers, advisors, and mentors that have helped me out along the way.
Looking Forward to the Future
We are now 100% employee owned and we’ve got an awesome group of employee owners that are contributing to our ongoing success. I look forward to what the next 20 years looks like for PFSbrands.