LAB Talks: Magic In The Middle
As Minnesota was finally beginning to see some signs of spring, we hosted a group of people dedicated to new ideas and growth in many different areas. From food, to flower, to business growth and distribution, Mary, Christine and Rhys all shared their experiences as being the middle man.
With intentional and innovative business ideas, Christine and Rhys shared their perspectives on creating a hub community. They shared their thoughts on how to impact the community by connecting people and businesses. Together they inspired the attendees of LAB Talks with their wisdom and creativity on being successful middle men, positively impacting the agricultural community in Minnesota.
We all leaned in as the questions from Mary began. Authentic answers from both Christine and Rhys drew everyone into their stories of their businesses.
What are the challenges in explaining your value, as people in the middle?
Christine: My thought when coming up with my business as a wholesale hub idea was, I wanted to sell more flowers for the farmers. In developing this model I realized that I am the middle man, which is not how I ever pictured myself. With that, I have had lots of conversations with farmers about what the value is, in my business. To me, the value is really in community and setting up a space for anyone from farmers to wholesalers to come into.
Rhys: Our value is in our training farmers and lunch cooks. As a non profit, our margins are tight. We have a hard time breaking even. So we are looking to add value in everything we do within our food hub. We are looking to add value to not only the farmers, but the school districts through education, training and connection.
“Every time I think my business is too hard or too much of a challenge, I remind myself that I know it needs to exist. That community and that support needs to exist for entrepreneurs.”
- CHRISTINE HOFFMAN
How do you build community and bring together individuals to support your business?
Christine: It’s about opening up a space and bringing people in. Of course we have individual farmers and buyers, but they all end up crossing paths and connecting. It happens in ways you don’t expect.
Rhys: We have been able to grow a healthy community with wonderful staff. Marketing as helped bring together school districts, families and farmers to make connections surrounding food and education.
Question From The Audience:
How do you keep your suppliers loyal to you?
Christine: I always come back to my why which is, I want to sell more flowers for the farmers. It really comes down to time, communication and trust.
Rhys: We have some farmers that have been with us since the beginning, but we help a lot with expansion. So, it’s a concern for us, but again we come in and add value through training so they are able to be profitable.
PANEL TIPS & QUOTES:
“Relationships are built at the speed of trust.”
“Don’t jump too far ahead of yourself.”
“Community happens in ways you would never expect.”
Written by: LAB Intern & Contributing Writer Madeline Wichterman. Photography by: Kathryn Eurman