In this episode, you’ll learn…
- How a health issue led to the creation of Primal Pastures.
- Why Paul doesn’t believe in an “ideal customer.”
- Paul’s tips for starting and scaling a pastured poultry business.
- Why Paul does not like the farmers market model for selling meats.
- How and why Pasturebird and Primal Pastures ship frozen meats.
- The demographics of Primal Pastures customers.
- How Pasturebird began selling meat to the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers.
- The right way to use Kickstarter, and how to raise money for your farm business.
- And tons more!
- Don’t forget to check out the Small Farm Nation Academy whenever you’re ready to GET GROWING!
A lot of people have started a small pastured poultry operation. But how many actually turn them into a thriving business? Today, you’ll hear how one person quit his job as an accountant and started a business that’s producing 300,000 chickens a year, all on pasture.
So you know how I’m often talking about how important it is to treat your farm business as just that. A BUSINESS rather than a hobby farm? Well today, you’ll hear the story of someone who’s doing just that, and doing it well.
I’m speaking with Paul Grieve of Pasturebird, a pastured poultry operation whose meat birds are enjoyed by the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers and numerous chefs and consumers in southern California.
Paul is also one of the founders of Primal Pastures, a family-owned pastured farm offering grassfed beef, lamb, chicken, pork and more. But whereas Primal Pastures sells directly to the public, PastureBird was created to sell wholesale. So Paul and I discuss selling wholesale vs direct to consumers, and we also discuss shipping meat, since both Pasturebird and Primal Pastures do exactly that.
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Paul discusses how online marketing and public relations have been invaluable tools in building their business, from start-up to multi-million dollars per year in just a few short years. Paul also discusses the importance of building a recognizable farm brand, something you’ve heard me talk about many times.
You’re gonna love Paul’s inspiring story, so listen in.
CLICK HERE TO READ FULL TRANSCRIPT
Tim Young: [00:00:00] Small farm nation is sponsored by Farmers Web, software for your farm. Farmers Web helps farms inform buyers of available product handle orders simplify customer interactions and reduce the administrative load so check them out at farmers web dot com. A lot of people have started a small pasture poultry operation but how many actually turn that into a thriving business.Hey it’s Tim Young a small farm nation dot com. Today you’ll hear how one person quit his job as an accountant and started a business that’s producing 300000 chickens a year all on cash. Hey there. Thanks for joining me again this week.
Tim Young: [00:00:43] So you know how I’m always talking about how important it is to treat your farm business as just that a business rather than a hobby. Well today you’ll hear the story of someone who’s doing just that and doing it well. I’m speaking with Paul Grieve of pasture Pasturebird a pasture poultry operation whose meat chickens are enjoyed by the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers and numerous chefs and consumers in Southern California. Paul is also one of the founders ofPrimal Pastures a family owned pastured farm that offers grass fed beef lamb chicken pork and other products. But whereasPrimal Pastures sells directly to the public pasture Pasturebird was created to sell wholesale. So Paul and I discussed selling wholesale versus direct to consumers and we also discussed shipping meat since both pasture Pasturebird and perennial pastures do exactly that. Now Paul discusses how online marketing and public relations have been invaluable tools in building their business from startup to multi-million dollars per year and just a few years. Paul also discusses the importance of building a brand. Something you’ve heard me talk a lot about small farm nation. So let’s just dive right in because you’re going to love hearing about Paul’s inspiring story
Tim Young: [00:02:05] Joining me today is Paul Greve of pasture Pasturebird in Southern California. Paul is just like the rest of us. He’s your typical college athlete turned Marine Corps intel officer an Iraq war veteran turned CPA turned MBA turned farmer. I’m not a breath. Paul welcome to small farm nation.
Paul Grieve: [00:02:22] Hey Tim thanks for having me.
Tim Young: [00:02:24] Hey Paul. When you were 22 or so your health started failing which I believe made it difficult for you to keep up as a young Marine. So what was going on with your body and what did you do about it.
Paul Grieve: [00:02:35] Yeah I mean it was it was really just a kind of standard American diet you know now we called a sad diet but I was eating like a normal kid would at a college breads and pastas and just whatever in the chow hall that was there and slowly I just started to feel an old I mean I was twenty two and back pain and couldn’t breathe through my nose low energy throughout the day and I mean that was a I was a college athlete so I just didn’t make sense to me. And a couple buddies basically said look you you’re inflamed dude like you’ve got to take care of the inflammation stuff. And I started cleaning up my diet and everything felt different after that.
Tim Young: [00:03:10] So was it easy for you to clean up your diet. I mean it’s had a simple back then for you you went to the store and bought some organic chicken or how did you go about cleaning up your diet.
Paul Grieve: [00:03:19] I mean for us back in that time of some called paleo that was working for me I don’t necessarily stick to that anymore but eliminated the inflammatory foods the breads and pastas and carbs and all that stuff and yeah wasn’t that hard for me because it was hey you need to go eat meat and vegetables you know. And I started feeling like a kid again and that opened my eyes to while the food I put my body really does affect the way I feel and perform and that sort of let us down this long path of OK. When you start looking at food quality and buying free range and cage free and grass fed and organic and we started spending a lot of money on this stuff well you know a lot of people though believe it or not Paul you’re not the only guy that converted to being paleo or Quito or whatever but the rest of us don’t start a farm.
Tim Young: [00:04:04] So how do you go from making that choice to actually raising a bunch of chickens just got frustrated.
Paul Grieve: [00:04:09] You know we’re spending all this extra money we were on a budget just like anybody else. We’re spending the extra three bucks a pound for free range chicken and the more we dove into it. You know I’m a cynic by nature and I’m going. This stuff really all that different than what we’re getting in this store regularly and started learning that free range chickens typically that label. I mean those Pasturebird s never even see the outdoors antibiotic free chickens they can be you know fed antibiotics their entire life up until three days before slaughter. Organic chickens can be raised in a factory farm just like anything else and that got pretty frustrating for us. We’re spending all this extra money.
Tim Young: [00:04:46] So you’re saying you found out that antibiotic free chickens actually can be fed antibiotics up until their last three days.
Paul Grieve: [00:04:52] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean go on national Chicken Council Web site and it’ll say all chickens are antibiotic free antibiotic free relates to the parts per billion of antibiotic residues in the meat that needs to test below the FDA threshold. It hasn’t nothing to do with the antibiotics that were fed to the Pasturebird . It’s life. And that kind of stuff is just so misleading and it just frustrated me and my family enough to the point where April 2012 we’re joking around about getting some chickens for the backyard is so annoying we can’t find what we want in the grocery store and sure enough my brother in law sitting in the room disappears comes back about five minutes later and he goes Hey guys ordered 50 chicks are going to be here in two weeks. You know a girl like. You did. What are you kidding me.
Tim Young: [00:05:38] He wasn’t talking and he wasn’t talking about a bachelor party right.
Paul Grieve: [00:05:43] He may have been at that time. But now this time he was talking about chickens.
Tim Young: [00:05:46] So when you get 50 chicks in the backyard I mean you live you know outside of L.A. I guess between LA and San Diego or something like that. So how much space did you actually have.
Paul Grieve: [00:05:56] Well we had at my in-laws folks. They had about a two acre back area and out of that we had about a quarter acre in a yard. So an actual grass I mean it wasn’t a pasture it was just a yard. So we had a little bit of a spot farm to go my father in law had been a longtime Allan Savory fan Stockman grass farmer reader is always kind of been a fan from the sidelines but never had the chance to actually do anything. He was supporting five kids his whole life for the construction business. None of us really had any money. You know all of us when we did this we said OK we’re going to put in five hundred dollars each. We’re not we don’t have extra money we’re just going to put that in if it goes it goes if it fails it fails and the goal was really just lets us grow some chickens for our family and stock up the freezer and it be a fun experiment fun hobby and we’re not trying to make this a business or anything like that.
Tim Young: [00:06:48] So you were just trying to raise chickens for yourselves so then how did it actually start the process of becoming a business. I mean you had 50 chickens that you guys were gonna share right.
Paul Grieve: [00:06:56] Yeah I mean so I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I thought I would do something in the tech space maybe in food or restaurant or something like that. And so I saw these 50 Pasturebird s. They were really expensive to do. They were our first time around and I said well maybe should sell 10 out of 50 or 20 and just help offset the cost. And this was in 2012. So I put a few posts up on Facebook and I created a little link where people could make a deposit and basically prepay for the Pasturebird if they wanted it and reserve it. And to our surprise within two weeks all 50 Pasturebird s have sold out completely. None for you looking at me. Go on What are you doing man. That’s all of our chicken there. Those that have you know and I’m sitting here you know the entrepreneur thinking that’s interesting. OK let’s do a hundred next time and see what happens. And so a hundred and two hundred and five hundred and and pretty soon a year later you know I’m I’m quitting my job as a CPA to go move out to the country full time to do this farming thing. So not not part of the plan but the window had opened.
Tim Young: [00:07:58] It’s such a typical entrepreneur move I mean I would do the same thing where you put out a feeler try to get somebody to buy a few years but if you could sell a small sell a mall and then be the entrepreneur never gets anything because they’re so focused on building the opportunity and capitalizing on it.
Paul Grieve: [00:08:12] Yeah. Six years now I don’t know if I’ve eaten a great a chicken yet. You know it’s always the damaged one or the one that’s packaging ripped or whatever. So my wife’s always give me a hard time. We haven’t had fillet minion in six years because we’re always eating the stew meat or the ground beef or something like that.
Tim Young: [00:08:29] Yeah I mean we eat the liver or the organs or one of my most memorable meals was when some Sunday morning when I cooked cooked pig brains for my wife for breakfast the pies there. But I got to say they were fantastically delicious. Now the interesting thing here though I’d like to dive into a second is you know you started to improve your health and your family’s health. And this is why you were looking to source chicken but you saw an opportunity and you weren’t on you want an entrepreneur before but you wanted to be an entrepreneur so you kind of were looking for windows of opportunity it sounds like now. So what changed in terms of your your execution. Well you know instead of raising 50 chickens you got 200 chickens or 500 chickens but now you’ve got a business. What did you didn’t do to structure that as a business and take advantage of the opportunity for a for a pure blood entrepreneur which I think I have that gene.
Paul Grieve: [00:09:28] You’re always thinking about growth and you’re looking for opportunities at all times. And I think if I can make this a lifestyle I mean I was I was working as a CPA I had a full desk job working 70 hours a week sitting inside of a fluorescent light working on Excel you know. Was it hard to convince me to look for opportunities outside of that. And when it started to take off it was no question I mean I try to make this into a business.
Tim Young: [00:09:53] Well you know what I think I’m trying to get at is what I’ve observed and I don’t know if you observed this or not with a lot of small farms is a lot of small farms they function more as a hobby farm and not as a serious business and it seems to me that you went really quickly from I’m have some backyard chickens too. I am going to treat this like a business so what did you do differently than a lot of these others don’t do.
Paul Grieve: [00:10:18] Actually I think that we decided to make this a business really from that second batch of Pasturebird s where after we saw the 50 go it was like OK. Let’s give this a real try as a business and I’ve never really been interested in just having a homestead 100 percent respect to those that want to do that. I think it’s fantastic and it’s wonderful and amazing lifestyle. But for me I’ve always wanted to have the impact of capitalist business that can make money produce really high quality food feed my family and a lot of other families. And it was just never been a question of whether or not the goal of this is a business. I think yeah it’s absolutely a better business from the beginning.
Tim Young: [00:10:58] So when you get started this wasPrimal Pastures right.
Paul Grieve: [00:11:01] That’s right.
Tim Young: [00:11:01] Yeah okay. So one of the things that’s a little bit confusing when you look online to some of us is well tell me aboutPrimal Pastures. Tell me about pasture Pasturebird the difference in that evolution and why you have two different businesses.
Paul Grieve: [00:11:14] So 2012 2013 the farm continued to grow. We ended up probably doing about 5000 Pasturebird s in 2014 and this is now two years in. So we’re getting our legs under us. We’re kind of starting to become profitable and we had to be profitable from the beginning but are able to pay ourselves a tidy wage at that point. And we started having shops and butchers and grocery stores and really these wholesale focused people come and say hey I really want to order from my restaurant or I really want to order a good example was the Lakers team chef and nutritionist came out this back in 2014 when they’re actually really good and they said hey you know Kobe’s playing on the team and all these great guys and we want the best food possible we want to source from your farm. And up until that point we’d never done any wholesale kind of intentionally because it’s really a different business. And so we said it’s the Lakers. I think we’ll make an exception. We jumped into the wholesale side of the business. Then the Dodgers came right after that. They said Hey we heard the Lakers are doing it. We wanted to do it. And so those were our first two wholesale accounts and it just became immediately apparent that online direct to consumer retail so different than heavy production week by week wholesale. The businesses need to be split so nothing no animosity or anything. But we set up a separate business now Pastor Pasturebird that’s focused entirely on large scale pastured poultry for the wholesale market fresh processing 52 weeks a year and really try to scale that part of the business because it just adds a different set of goals different mission same production practices. But that’s really the only similarity to have so that became pastor Pasturebird and that’s where I really devote like most of my energy and attention to nowadays.
Tim Young: [00:13:05] So let’s say there’s a pastured poultry farmer out there let’s say there’s somebody in Tennessee raising two thousand Pasturebird s a year or whatever and you know typical Salatin style pens and they’re listening to this and they’re saying well I’d like to get some wholesale accounts to why do I need to create a separate business so what happens.
Paul Grieve: [00:13:22] Different in running the pasture poultry enterprise when it’s wholesale versus when it’s retail. So one clarifying Mark is thatPrimal Pastures that’s our direct to consumer online business. We not only now do chicken we also have lamb we have beef we have pork. We do some fish we do raw honey. All of those things are kind of aggregated into our cold storage warehouse. I take orders online every week and those ship out 200 300 400 orders a week now go into 12 different states. That’s a pretty specific dialed you know good sized business in the past year poultry that passion Pasturebird business is the production and wholesale. So with that one I’m running about six thousand Pasturebird s a week bringing in the chicks bring in six thousand of slaughter have the wholesale accounts and work on distributors and slaughterhouses and restaurants and butcher shops and all these guys I mean it’s just a completely different business. It’s like you know cows chickens and might as well be. So there’s just not enough overlap. I wanted a separate set of staff a separate set of bank accounts a separate really.
Tim Young: [00:14:30] All right. So then let’s talk about your production process for your business so you’ve got Pasturebird doing wholesale. You’re not doing conventional chicken tractors what are you doing for your housing out there how are you moving them and all that stuff.
Paul Grieve: [00:14:44] Yeah. So we started out with the Joel Salatin style wooden pens from the beginning our thing is it’s been daily rotation floorless pen we’ve tried a little bit of the day range system where you’re you know let them out to range around we’ve got absolutely torched by predators and other issues with that. So not a good fit for us. But the daily move salads and style flawless pant has been great as we’ve grown we essentially grew out of the skeleton size and now we’ve moved into more of a greenhouse floorless greenhouse so we use a 40 by 20 foot mobile range coupe it’s called and that gets pulled by a pickup truck every day. We run five or six Pasturebird s and each one of those I’ve got 70 of them out of the farm right now. Farming about 160 acres of poultry stuff like that.
Tim Young: [00:15:34] Wait a minute time out you’re not or you’re not on a quarter acre anymore then.
Paul Grieve: [00:15:38] NO longer on a quarter acre.
Tim Young: [00:15:39] Yeah you’ve grown a little bit. So where are you. So when did that move happen and did you lease farmland did you buy farmland or what.
Paul Grieve: [00:15:48] It’s kind of happened over the course of four years and moved to a couple of different farms. Now we’re on two separate properties one about 15 acre we call it our headquarters ranch where we run our sheep some pigs and a bunch of chickens That’s our farm tour spot really beautiful dialed ranch with parking and infrastructure all that stuff. We have a production site to that’s about one hundred and forty acres. Little farther away from town still beautiful really rural out there country and that’s where we do a lot of our heavy lifting just poultry right now the pastures we’re leasing all this ground. So we haven’t bought any farm land at all. Really glad we haven’t got any farmland by the way the mortgage out here is just too expensive in Southern California to try to buy and make that payment just off the farm. The lease is a fraction of what it would take to buy. As far as the mortgage goes and that’s really help with the cash flow helped us grow help us stay really flexible and stuff but that production site has about fifteen hundred acres on it. We’re only leasing about a tenth of it right now and we’re looking to just keep growing into it as we go.
Tim Young: [00:16:56] Wow. Okay so you’re doing you’ve got like five to six snowbirds in each pen you get 70 of these pens are these Pasturebird s and they’re I think they’re all boilers they’re not layers so are you doing corners crossing to freedom Rangers or what are you doing.
Paul Grieve: [00:17:08] We’re doing a mix so yeah we have. CORNISH cross on a on a conventional feed I say conventional but it’s just not organic feed basically doesn’t have any of the you know hormones or drugs or additives or antibiotics into it. It’s just a corn and soy based or conventional feed that’s our Cornish Cross program. We found that the restaurants can only put so many things on the menu and they have a real tight kind of window for budget. When we started all we ever did was certified organic soy free. Freedom Rangers beautiful Pasturebird absolutely awesome eating experience about 11 to 12 week production cycle really really expensive. I mean we’ve got to sell these Pasturebird s for 25 30 bucks to even make it worth our time. Absolutely zero chefs can afford that for the restaurant. So when they came to us they basically said Look it’s cool we love what you’re doing. We want to do pasta poultry but we really don’t care if it’s certified organic or not. And we also don’t really need the benefit of the Freedom Ranger which is like that slow growth high flavor profile. It does tend on the tougher side sometimes that’s it. We’re good with just a Cornish cross conventional but on pasture. Yeah. So we jumped into the Cornish cross thing too.
Tim Young: [00:18:28] Yeah. Paul Tough is not a good marketing word. I described it as firm when I was somebody Rangers as it is. He’s got a firm texture to it but I know what you mean. But you know you just touched on a good point that I also observed with our customers and I think that most people would say sure I would prefer to have an organic non GMO Pasturebird that’s raised on lush pasture. But when it came to what I found is that it wasn’t the organic that customers cared about the most what they cared about was knowing their farmer trusted team how was raised trusting that they knew that it was transparent they knew the process.
Paul Grieve: [00:19:04] You’re 100 percent on that. I mean I wish that everything we did was organic through and through. The most slow growth heritage Pasturebird but the reality is pastured production is viable and it’s possible to do. That’s just too hard to do in a certified organic program. We have that we still produce a certified organic feed Pasturebird and it represents maybe 20 25 percent of our business something like that. It’s great. I do it as much as absolutely possible. But at the end of the day the chefs kind of just turned blue in the face when a when we start talking about feed strategies and all that stuff they want to hear the story they want to know. All right. Tell me about your family. Tell me about the 50 chicks. Tell me about when nine of you guys lived in seventeen hundred square feet. Tell me about how the farm’s regenerating the soil and doing all this stuff. You know that’s what they really do care about so yeah you’ve got to give people what they want where they want it they want to put a story on the menu.
Tim Young: [00:20:01] They don’t want to put your feed ingredients on them. So you know it’s interesting we’re talking about you’re primarily doing the Cornish and you’ve done some freedom Rangers and of course today on the B side there’s you know there is a minor segment out there that’s all hot and bothered about Wagyu beef but that also can be done on the chicken side. What about these black silks that you are experimenting with.
Paul Grieve: [00:20:23] Yeah I mean we’re always open to new things. We had a few customers asked for this traditional Chinese black silky chicken and that was just a an opportunity. Really honestly these are farmers on this podcast. It was a marketing thing for us. So I grabbed twelve hundred of these chicks raised them up did a lot of stories about it on Instagram and Facebook when we processed. It was a lot of fun to push them out to our shops and our home customers and stuff but it’s really just a way for us to get in people’s brains. These guys are doing a pasture raised traditional silky chicken kind of open us up to an ethnic market that we didn’t really have access to before. But yeah it was a trap I mean these are black meat black skinned chickens and I’d never even eat a meal and before I ordered twelve hundred of them and just did a.
Tim Young: [00:21:10] You know we’ve got to dive into this because you’re a very interesting person that I’m getting I’m having trouble getting my hands around here because you’re you’re taking these really risky entrepreneurial moves that people like me do all the time but yeah I’m not a CPA by background and CPA don’t do this kind of stuff. So it makes a lot of sense to me to do something like this as a marketing tactic to get exposure to get some press to get more followers to get in the conversation. But how do you make sure from a CPA point of view that you can justify buying twelve hundred Pasturebird s like that.
Paul Grieve: [00:21:44] Yeah I mean here here’s the real delineation is that it’s not that big of a risk for me. We’ve spent six years building up our e-mail list. We’ve built up our customer base you know so I know without a shadow of doubt I can sell these Pasturebird s to my customers no questions asked. I will get through it. It may take me two or three months I’ve still actually have some on the site right now that I haven’t sold yet but they will no doubt how to percent sell. If I was only selling to one or two restaurants or one distributor that was taking 100 percent of my product I would have been pretty risky for me to not have a market and basically launch that out having no idea what was going to happen. But you really just de-risk a lot of situations when you have your own customer base. Right.
Tim Young: [00:22:29] All right. Right. You do. And it’s critical to build your e-mail list which you’ve done you’ve done a great job of doing over the years and that’s part of the reason we’re doing that is so if you’ve got a push product you can push your product out there. So then is it fair to say that one of the reasons to separate Pastor Pasturebird is because you felt the need that you have to become more efficient in scale if you want to achieve your entrepreneurial objectives.
Paul Grieve: [00:22:52] Yeah I mean look that’s the goal of Pastor Pasturebird is to prove that you can have a net national pastured poultry brand in a long term goal is for this to be just like you know Purdue or Tyson Foods or something like that Why isn’t there a pasture raised chicken company that’s out there in grocery stores in restaurants. That’s a that’s doing their thing. I think that the market’s ready for it. There’s still some technological things that need to be figured out to make this really scale and makes sense. But that’s the goal of this business. Private pastors the family farm it’s regional it’s local. We have people offer tours all the time workshops. We ship five six different types of meat. You know it’s just two completely different goals.
Tim Young: [00:23:36] So if we if we talk about the costs then for producing not the cut not your production costs let’s say your sales cost them. If you’re selling a Cornish cross today what would you charge per pound today and what did you charge say two years ago it has. I don’t see how that’s changed.
Paul Grieve: [00:23:52] Yeah. And we’re actually I just got done doing a round of price decreases now for all of my distributors and that’s part of the model. You know as we pick up these economies of scale I can lower my price and even lower my margin because I was just having a conversation with somebody about this yesterday. If I can make 40 dollars a Pasturebird at six thousand Pasturebird s a week I would take that over making ten dollars a Pasturebird at six hundred Pasturebird s a year. Right. I mean I can take a much lower margin when I’m doing these bigger numbers any on my cost structures drop dramatically too. In the beginning we’re paying two dollars per check you know for a baby check ready to go. Now I can get that for under a dollar. I mean I was paying almost a thousand dollars a ton for feed in the beginning and I was paying maybe 15 dollars a Pasturebird just in feed costs. Now I can do that same thing for 3 4 bucks. And that’s all just economies of scale and that’s one thing I’ve found in agriculture is I’ve gotten deeper into it. If you want to be serious about this there is a big advantage to scaling up your numbers because they can get the same quality if not better for a fraction of the price. When I start ordering full truck loads and the unpredictable stuff like that.
Tim Young: [00:25:03] Yeah. Yeah I totally get the economies of scale. You know another thing I’m interested in your point of view on is when you start a business like pasture Pasturebird which has a clear focus right your focus is wholesale for the most part and is pastured poultry and scaling that towards an economical viable model. But the key word there is focus because I noticed that a lot of small farms are you know jack of all trades master of none kind of do a lot of people. And I wonder if that if you think that gets in the way of a lot of small farmer success it does.
Paul Grieve: [00:25:39] I know it does because I see it all the time. Another reason yet again you’re picking up all these reasons why we split outPrimal Pastures. Beautiful Business. Love it. It’s awesome. But how to split that from Pastor Pasturebird . Passion it is all about focus. I mean we’re picking pasture raised broiler as our entire business. You know what does that do. It allows us to get good at something. Finally. WithPrimal Pastures when we’re doing a little bit of pork a little bit of lamb little bit of chicken do us online retail stuff you never really get good at anything and in agriculture you’ve got to pick something you know and get really good at it. And that’s why we’ve chosen to aggregate a few other products too. But it’s really allowed us to grow. Being able to pick something really look at what is the climate support what is the economic climate support. What is the market support and way to look at all those things. We kind of looked at this in Southern California. Chicken is just wide open right now. We have access to USDA processing doesn’t take as much land. Land is really expensive here. We can irrigate. You know you can’t really do that on a beef operation just it’s not going to. It’s not going to pay but we can do a lot of Pasturebird s on a small amount of acreage. So we just chose to really put all of our eggs in the pastured poultry basket and give it a good solid go.
Tim Young: [00:26:58] So you know you mentioned that you know you’re close to L.A. which I mean listen to be honest about that it’s really a great situation that you’re next to the second largest metropolitan statistical area and you’re only an hour or so away from San Diego which is also in the top 20. What if you were advising somebody who liked your model really wanted to build a sizable pasture poultry operation but many farms are located three hours away from a city. I mean do you think this is replicated bowl for that type of farmer.
Paul Grieve: [00:27:27] Yeah mean it’s possible. Too many farmers look at their land base first and then decide what they want to do. I think it’s a lot better to decide what you want to do and then pick where you are going to have your farm if you want to be serious about it. I always go back to any business you’re going to do that right. Are you going to go start a construction company out in the middle of nowhere where you have no market. No. And if we’re looking at this as a business you got to think about it that way too. You may need to be willing to relocate if you want to take this seriously. Southern California is a great market. A lot of people say Oh you’re lucky because you know you’re there you’re close. We’re an hour and a half from 22 million people and I say we’re not lucky. I mean we chose to do what we did here because of where we’re at. That’s a big part of why we did that.
Tim Young: [00:28:13] I get people I get people saying that you’re lucky and I understand that. But at least let’s talk about the other side of the equation. Farm bluntly and whether you lease it or buy it out there is outrageously expensive stock. So you know there’s a tradeoff on that as well. I mean I think that the secret to success starts with first and foremost coming up with a business model a business model that works that you can make money with and then scaling it so that you do make money.
Paul Grieve: [00:28:39] Absolutely. Yeah. And these guys that are out the middle of nowhere. So they do have cheap land. But as you scale it you’re gonna be able to find labor. Are you going to find USDA processing.
Tim Young: [00:28:50] Yes true. That’s true. Processing is a problem for everyone you know. Back to pasture for a second here in a moment we’ll move on to some marketing and business issues. I know you said it’s wholesale primarily but it looks to me like you can individuals can order on your Web site as well. So is your model changing or what’s that all about.
Paul Grieve: [00:29:08] No I mean that’s just a tiny fraction of the business we just had enough e-mails coming in saying hey can we just order directly from you guys. We’re already shipping you know every week throughPrimal Pastures. So I kind of leverage that infrastructure to ship our Pasturebird products out too. But it’s it’s not like we have a lot of orders coming through there. We still do ninety nine percent of our business and wholesale and then we get a few orders coming through there which is great. I mean I’m always happy to to sell direct that way too.
Tim Young: [00:29:37] I found the shipping intriguing because it looks like on pasta Pasturebird you ship nationwide but I’m perennial pastures you only ship in a few few states so why not ship nationwide for primo pastures.
Paul Grieve: [00:29:49] Really good question. Something that we discuss all the time herePrimal Pastures has committed to a certified organic soy free you know species appropriate diet so grass fed grass finished for ruminants certified organic soy free for all the pastured omnivore animals and it’s been really hard to scale the supply chain to be honest. SoPrimal Pastures has not been able to keep the supply up with the demand even for the twelve states we ship to. So we’re not really in a position to be able to just you know grow that nationwide because we already don’t have enough food for the customers that are ordering now. So when we can eventually maybe get that supply chain figured out we’d open it up nationwide. It’s not that shipping not the problem we have that dialed in. It’s really just a supply chain. That’s not possible with that ultra premium level product piece malformation.
Tim Young: [00:32:04] Can you spend just a second on the shipping that you’ve got dialed in because for a lot of small farmers I think this is really overwhelming for them. So is it not overwhelming to do shipping. How do you manage that logistically and how do you build that cost into your into your pricing.
Paul Grieve: [00:32:18] Yeah. So I always say take every hour that you spend related to your farmer’s market and pretend that you could just scrap that overnight and just be done with it. Packing the freezer transport sitting around waiting for people to show up you know all of that nonsense. I shouldn’t say nonsense sometimes you have to do it you have to do but pretend that you could just get rid of all that and pour every one of those minutes into you know being at home or working on your shipping model. That’s pretty much what we’ve done. I’ve never been to a farmer’s market as a kid as a vendor you know and I don’t like the farmer’s market model for farmers. I personally go you’ve got a coffee in one hand. You know I got my two year old in the other hand I’m not buying my real food for the week in that way. It’s just not really convenient. I don’t have a way to really transport it. So for a million reasons I’m not a big fan of selling at farmer’s markets. I can send an email out to my 18000 customers and bring in twenty thousand dollars in a day from the comfort of my home and ship that all out in one day and be done with it now and it’s taken us time to get there. Don’t get me wrong all right. But I would take that nine times out of ten times out of ten over sit around at the farmer’s market. So we use FedEx. We use an insulated liner with dry ice. FedEx can be anywhere between one day shipping to kind of like two or three days to hit our twelve different states within our region with time and volume we’ve built up a really good rate with FedEx it takes time but with time you can build up a really good rate with those guys. And so we’re able to ship product we charge for shipping onPrimal Pastures but honestly not enough to cover it. So we build in some of those costs into our into our sales some of the time people say oh your prices are really high. We don’t realize always you’re paying for the shipping and there too you know. But yeah it’s been a wonderful model for us. It allows us to reach a large audience base allows us to use digital marketing which has just taken off like a rocket right now. And it’s fun too. It’s a good way to connect with our customers.
Tim Young: [00:34:28] Yeah I agree completely with your what your findings about farmers markets. I mean if you do in a farmer’s markets as a meat vendor first of all your product doesn’t show well. You’ve got to pack it up you’ve got to take it there. Inevitably you’re going to bring some back load it back in your freezers again and you just don’t have much control over you know over the sales process. You know one of the things that surprised me a little bit when I was selling you know varied love pastured meats was who Mike who my customers were. Now I don’t believe in this this notion of an ideal customer because my customers were very varied but if I kind of had this belief you know that you know early on it’s like people with a lot of money or the people who are well off would be buying but what I found was it was people who were prioritizing their health and prioritizing nutrition were the people who were buying some of them were people that were one of them was unemployed but they were just making conscious choices to make better eating decisions and so I’m wondering what are you seeing as your demographic.
Paul Grieve: [00:35:28] You sound like me man. I’d say that all the time when we got into it I thought it was one of things I was bummed out about that we’re going to be selling food for rich people you know. Absolutely not the case. I mean I would say rich people make up like a really small percentage of our market overall. This is all on the direct to consumer side now but I would say just the exact same it’s people that maybe they don’t drive the nicest car they don’t have the biggest house they don’t have the huge TV but they’ve decided to spend their money on food and and really invest that way and knowing that is important too because that changes your marketing strategy. So to me this isn’t advertising right. Advertising is like I’m going to pick Jane Doe who’s got 2.5 kids and they make 100k per year and all that stuff and I’m going to push my message towards them and try to convince them to buy. That’s not what we do. And I don’t think it’s really a good strategy either. I’m going out and I’m trying to find people that are already looking for what we do and I’m just trying to show them hey we’re over here. We do what you want and those people I mean it’s cost a lot less to market to those people than it does to advertise to wealthy folks who you have you need to twist their arm to basically start becoming a customer.
Tim Young: [00:36:44] So when you say looking for those type of people and since she got into this coming from the paleo background does that mean that you’re doing any kind of outreach or targeting of Quito or paleo or any of those types of groups Yeah.
Paul Grieve: [00:36:56] And honestly we test out these different groups so that’s another great thing about doing digital marketing instead of standing at a farmer’s market booth hoping somebody shows up you know I can target down really individually and I’ve actually found that the paleo crowd for whatever reason doesn’t respond as well to our digital marketing but somebody like a western a prize foundation somebody that follows you know a real food this and that that can be a lot better fit for us because they’re already educated they already know the difference of free range and pasture raised they already know they have a good baseline understanding they just don’t know that we exist. So we basically just have to say hey we’re here here’s what we do and and you can earn that customer really easily and really cheap.
Tim Young: [00:37:42] We did the same thing. I mean we aligned with Weston A. Price associations and you’re totally right they will teach you a word or two that you might not know they’re they’re very proud of. They’re very interested in this kind of production. Turning to a marketing branding question here the name Pastor Pasturebird to me is really intuitive and it’s a memorable brand name. Was that by accident or was that by you know very conscious effort?
Paul Grieve: [00:38:06] I’m all about trying to keep it simple keep it clear and when we’re trying to think about the goal of this company as a national pastured poultry company what’s the simplest thing we can do. You know pasture and chickens pasta chicken doesn’t sound as good as Pastor Pasturebird . So when I found the domain I got this bad habit of just buying domains left and right you know and I saw the domain was open. We just jumped on it.
Tim Young: [00:38:30] Yeah I’m a domain junkie myself and I don’t know why you know but it’s that entrepreneurial trait why you know you got to do that but what I’m really interested in is I’ve you’ve done a great job of branding and I just for whatever reason you’re very innate an intuitive marketer you know that’s that type of entrepreneur. But a lot of people who go into farming you know you made the example earlier that you don’t go build a construction company out the middle nowhere but a lot of people do go sort of farm the middle of nowhere because it’s the romantic notions that draw a lot of people to this lifestyle. But you really seem to be focusing on building a brand. And I think it must be because you have a clear vision. Is that true.
Paul Grieve: [00:39:09] Yeah absolutely. And I’ve just seen it. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up in downtown Seattle. After that I moved to Newport Beach. So I think that it’s easy for me to think how are consumers really think because I didn’t grow up in a rural America situation at all. I grew up thinking the same way that these people do and people are attracted to brands. People really leveraged brands and I think brands carry a lot more weight than stuff like labels. You know you can put Global Animal partnerships step for and certified humane and animal welfare approved. Nobody really knows what that stuff means. I mean you and I might because we’re in the business but nobody else really does. If I put my own brand on it though and I put my own face on on the product and I really stand behind it. That to me was a lot longer with the average consumer than a bunch of fancy labels do.
Tim Young: [00:40:03] Yeah I think the real difference between what you’re doing and what I see a lot of farms do is you started this with a vision of what you wanted to create. I would like to create a large accessible and affordable pasture based chicken for everybody and then you build a business to accomplish that. And I think I think a lot of farms start with I want to go out and I want to farm and it’s not a business.
Paul Grieve: [00:40:28] It’s not a business it’s a great lifestyle and it’s just so important to separate the lifestyle piece of this from the business part of it. You can have the lifestyle. You can have a homestead but if that’s your goal make it clear that that’s your goal and it probably will never make money but you can feed your family amazing food you can have great experiences for your kids you can have this great lifestyle there’s a lot of advantages to that but the two are so different. And if you get him confused that’s when you get into hot water I think.
Tim Young: [00:40:56] So take a minute and tell us the story of what the billion dollar buyer is who the billion dollar buyer is and how he managed to stick a quarter million dollars in your pocket.
Tim Young: [00:41:07] We’ve had a lot of opportunities to go on TV. I think another thing that’s good about digital marketing is a lot of people hear your story and they see your message. So we got a call from ABC saying hey would you guys be interested in coming on this TV show. We get calls. Honestly this isn’t exaggerating all the time. I mean 20 times a year we got HBO or Animal Planet or somebody calling saying hey will you do this documentary or do this TV show. And we have to say no to a lot of that stuff. But this seemed interesting to me. I had heard of the show I’d never seen it but it’s essentially this guy Tim for PETA who’s the largest restaurant tour in the US. He was like 600 restaurants. The premise of the show is still come out look at a small business.
Paul Grieve: [00:41:49] We’ll try to structure a deal where you can buy your product and you’ll go like that. So we said he asked to it after a lot of back and forth. I’ll add I didn’t want to just go in there and look like an idiot on national TV. So there was a lot of discussions ahead of time on that. We have a successful business. I don’t need this. You know it’s not something that I need. I don’t want to go out on national TV and look like a fool. So there’s a lot of discussions ahead of time with that on what is this going to look like what the challenge is going to look like but ultimately came out they did two or three days of filming he placed a purchase order for five hundred Pasturebird s a week for a full year and we actually just completed that contract. So it was a great deal. He made good on his promise. He ordered Pasturebird s. It was an investment which is really important a lot of people think it’s like a shark tank situation where he was buying equity in the business it wasn’t like that we had to deliver the Pasturebird s to him every single week. But he committed to ordering them at a at a set price. It was great. I mean it was good publicity nationally. The one thing that freaked me out told the story we did do a blind taste test on national TV.
Paul Grieve: [00:42:57] Now I believe in the product. One hundred thousand percent. I’m a huge fan of what we do but I’m not a chef and really I don’t just do this for the taste right. I mean I’m doing it for the health the animal the consumer or the health of the soil if it tastes better. Great. But I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to tell the tell that difference and taste every single time. So we had it tested against married a popular you know grow house Pasturebird out here on the West Coast. And I was freaking out. I don’t know if you saw the episode or not but they did three different dishes. One was smothered in cheese and it was two plates it was the password plate versus the Mary’s plate and it was four people voting. So blind blindfolded the whole thing. And we had to basically raise our hand on which one we thought tasted better and I was just I was sweating man because on national TV what happens if you get them all wrong and you end up looking like a fool. And thank God. I think it was a nine to three that our product outperformed the conventional free range organic chicken that was that we were up against but I was worried about that.
Tim Young: [00:44:04] Did you vote for the right chicken.
Paul Grieve: [00:44:06] I got hours every single time. I don’t know. Between you and me it tasted really similar and I was just going off the tiniest little slightest taste difference. But yeah I got hours every time my brother-in-law who is on the show with me. He missed hours once I kind of made him look like a fool. But yeah I was happy with it.
Tim Young: [00:44:25] Well let me ask you a question about that. I know you when you just brought up on tasting that kind of triggered something for me. I mean course tasting is subjective but given that you were a new farmer coming into this and I was a new farmer too I had no background in farming. You know we were out there raising grass fed beef and we were raising cash poultry and lamb and other things and you’re doing the same thing atPrimal Pastures and now pasture Pasturebird when you raise grass fed beef there is an art to finishing the beef where it can you know marble as well as possible you’ve got to finish it on the right forage on a finishing at the right time of year the certain parts of the animal that you’re looking for to tell that it’s finished and fleshed out. But with chicken it’s not really that you know that way. Chicken you know you you’re putting them out there you give them cash was given on feed and the chicken is pretty much finished and so I find that my consumers were a lot more forgiving on the chicken side because any pasture chicken whether it’s Turkey or goose or duck or anything that I ever sold. People said it tasted like chicken but it tastes great. But sometimes you sell beef grass fed beef and you can be great or maybe not great. Have you experienced anything like that?
Paul Grieve: [00:45:38] I think it’s one of the big reasons we jumped in the past year poultry is I fell because we saw grass fed beef with perennial pastures too. I feel like I have kind of grown to like the taste of a true grass fed beef. You know it’s got that little gamey flavor to it. Yes. If it’s finished perfectly on the clover pasture is irrigated year round all that stuff you can get it to maybe taste better to the average consumer than feedlot beef but nine people out of ten would prefer just the flavor alone of feedlot grain finished beef over grass fed beef. That’s just the way it is. I wish it wasn’t but it is pasture poultry is not that way. I would say our product tastes at least as good as the grow house Pasturebird s but probably it is going to taste better because in addition to the grain they’re forging for the grasses bugs worms seeds they’re getting moved off of their manure. So while beef is kind of competing to taste as good as their counterpart I think we will at worst taste as good in the chicken side and most likely will taste a little bit better all the time. And that’s a big hump that grass fed beef has continually tried to clear as the taste issue in poultry. We don’t have that issue it’s actually a benefit.
Tim Young: [00:46:54] Yeah just like if you’ve learned the benefits of focusing on pasture Pasturebird I think the ones that are really producing exceptional grass fed beef are the ones that are really focused on scaling an enterprise. They’re under an understanding everything about their forage and their breeds and their animals and in our diet because because otherwise if you’re a small farmer trying to do diversified layered enterprises of livestock you know it’s hard to be great at all these things.
Paul Grieve: [00:47:18] It sounds so cool right. And I think Joel Salatin has been such a mentor to a such inspiration in so many ways. But many small farmers are want to you know want to be farmers look at him as a that’s the goal right. I want to run five different types of livestock direct market everything. It’s just not that easy. This is a genius that we’re talking about first of all Saladin whether you like him or not absolute genius guy he’s had 30 40 years into this business. He understands what he’s doing. Got a fantastic pool of apprentice labor. It’s always going to remember too the guy is not necessarily paying all these people that are on staff all the time. So his model. As awesome as it sounds may not work for everybody across the country right.
Tim Young: [00:48:04] Right. And you know listen you know there are outliers and he’s another outlier. I mean he’s fantastic at what he does. He’s a great advocate. But I think whether it’s copying pasture Pasturebird or copying Joel Salatin you know copying isn’t a good idea. Learning from someone else and then coming up with your own business model how can I apply what I see there and come up with a model that works for me is a better idea.
Paul Grieve: [00:48:26] Absolutely. That’s that’s totally right. And for us passion Pasturebird did a big thing was we won’t have impact. I would love to leave a lasting legacy in the poultry industry that goes onto my kids and grandkids of yeah. You know Grandpa helped and factory farming by showing that you know these pens can be moved at scale and there’s something that can be done and done for the stationary agriculture. Oh yeah. Back in the early 2000s they used to leave chickens in one spot you know for years. I would love that to be the legacy that’s left on afterwards you know.
Tim Young: [00:48:58] Yes so I read a quote attributed to you that basically said until you can compete on price you’re not going to have the impact that you need to have. So I’m assuming that’s what led to the whole partial Pasturebird vision anyway so that you can get the price where it needs to be.
Paul Grieve: [00:49:11] Yeah absolutely. I know people will pay a small premium but here’s my big thing too is 10 to 20 percent of the of the chicken industry which about 80 billion dollar industry in the U.S. is already paying for organic and free range and antibiotic free. The average consumer that’s paying for free range thinks that they’re getting something that looks like what we’re doing and they are not getting that. So there’s a big education part of this but to me that math says there’s an 8 to 16 billion dollar market out there for people that want to buy what we’re doing. They just need the education of the product to be their product isn’t in most grocery stores it’s not available to most chefs. So we just need to get it there.
Tim Young: [00:49:53] I’d like to talk to you about a couple funding things I know for the most part you’ve you funded this but I also know that you’ve reached out. I know that you just mentioned a billion dollar buyer was not an investment that was an order. One of the things I did on my farm years many years ago was we had a successful Kickstarter campaign and I know you did as well that you raised about 60 thousand dollars. But what I’d like to ask you about this is I had a lot of people back then that asked me about how to do a Kickstarter campaign. And I always thought they were looking at it wrong because they kept asking me they were they were basically asking me how do you how can I raise money. And for us the big benefit of Kickstarter was from a marketing point of view. You know it helped really Kickstarter kick started our email marketing list a lot. I getting that and now I noticed in years I think you’ve got like 700 or something supporters. How did you view Kickstarter as a tool to help you build your farm?
Paul Grieve: [00:50:42] If you and I wrote a book it would say a lot of the same thing. Kickstarter the numbers flashy right sixty thousand dollars for a new farm. Wow that’s a lot. There’s a lot to that number right. I mean the number that you end up walking away with for us. I did all the math. We ended up walking away with maybe ten or fifteen thousand dollars and out of that for the amount of hours that I put into it I could have gotten a job as a greeter at Wal-Mart and made that much right. I mean this is a marketing exercise through and through. Honestly I feel like Kickstarter is kind of run its course by now. I think it’s hard to raise money now than it was before this. It’s just saturated there’s a lot already going on there. I think it’s gonna be hard. It’s not a bad way to do some marketing stuff but try to go on there and do what was possible back in 2013 tough now. But yes marketing thing through and through. As far as funding goes I was a big fan at the beginning of really small initial investment and just forcing it to work reinvesting profits not paying yourself keep your day job in the beginning you put everything you can back into the business trying to harvest profits out too early can really stifle your growth. We did not take any loans or any equity investment or anything like that for a long time. I mean and that was probably three or four years that we didn’t take any outside money at all. And I think that really helped us get our numbers tight get the margins working and grow. Now four or five years in multiple millions and sales profitable staff employees infrastructure now are at a point where it does kind of make sense to start bringing in good debt at a good rate. I know the numbers work. I know it’s going to make sense. I know what to spend the money on and even equity investment which means selling stock in the company at a good price that can even make sense and we’ve done some of that already as well.
Tim Young: [00:52:41] That’s what you did with the Tech Coast angels for example.
Paul Grieve: [00:52:44] Yeah exactly. So we’ve worked really hard to get the business to a value that I can sell equity and not give up the whole company. Right. So in the beginning if we were just a startup business we’d never done anything. And I wanted to bring in fifty thousand dollars well maybe my business is even worth fifty thousand dollars at that point. So I’m going to sell 80 90 percent of my business just to try to get it off the ground. That’s not the route you want to go. I would say build that business up to where it’s worth a million five million 10 million. Then you can start kind of selling shares I haven’t talked too much about this publicly. I’m totally fine doing it but I think it’s a great way once you have an established business to kind of be able to expand more rapidly.
Paul Grieve: [00:53:30] First of all the investor thing is tricky. You’ve got to be smart about who you bring on some of these guys are sharks some of them are angels some devils you know. But if you get the right people they can be really well connected. They can bring you kind of low cost of capital money that you don’t need to have a payment on right away an equity investment is different than debt where you need to service that debt and pay interest on all the time. This is money that they’ve come in that come alongside of you and you need to be kind of a non greedy person in that way if you want to do equity investment. But it can really be a great way to fund an operation like this.
Tim Young: [00:54:06] So you know let’s put investment pricing sales marketing all this under the business side. You know what would you say. What percentage of your time do you spend thinking about proactively on the business side versus the farming. The typical farming chore side.
Paul Grieve: [00:54:23] Take this podcast we’ve recorded so far and think about how much we’ve talked about the production and how much we’ve talked about the business and that’s about it. You know probably like 80 20. But probably 90 10. We’re now especially now because my my roles morphed into CEO. And my job is the business part of this. I have 16 guys that are doing chores and packing and I mean I’m watching guys doing tractor work outside right now. This has become a real business. So my job in this business is to do the the financing the structure the equity the sales and marketing. And so yeah I’d say 80 20 90 10 of business compared to the actual farming part of this.
Tim Young: [00:55:05] Yeah just to take exception with one thing you said this hasn’t become a business. You’ve made this a business and I believe that the way that happens successful entrepreneurs happen is they start with a vision you know a very inspiring vision that that motivates them it can motivate other people and then you when you go out and execute on that you’re able to then hire people up to 16 people whether they’re apprentices whether they’re employees or whatever it may be but it starts with that mindset that I have a vision that is really important to me and I’m going to go make that happen and I think that’s what separates you from a lot of not just farms but a lot of businesses out there that are that are winging it basically.
Paul Grieve: [00:55:43] That’s absolutely right. And it’s also about knowing what your strengths are. I did the chores I did. Backyard processing for two or three years and that was plenty of time for me to realize that’s not my strong suit. And it’s not even really my passion. I like being outside. I like doing the work myself. But as we started to hire people I started to realize wow this guy’s actually got way more attention to detail than I do. He’s better with you know a tool kit than I am. He can fix stuff way better and way faster than I can. So I go to the city man. That’s not really I didn’t grow up around all that stuff. So as we were able to hire experts in each respective category that’s also what allowed our business to take off because I am really good on a spreadsheet. You know I spent three years doing accounting. I can run a financial model with the best of them I can sell the product. I’m really good with shops. I can do that part of it. But really knowing what your strengths are and I agree. Having a clear vision is huge for that.
Tim Young: [00:56:39] Well may I see this it sounds like when I do a quick math on your numbers that you’re raising you know between a quarter million a three and a thousand Pasturebird s a year on past year which to everyone everyone listening out there just sounds like a humongous number. But I tell you that’s a that’s a blip on the radar when you think about chicken and the country so as an entrepreneur who’s driven and get some success how do you turn this now into a major opportunity what are you thinking about now that will allow you to become really big.
Paul Grieve: [00:57:09] Yeah absolutely. I know it sounds like a big number but like you just said it is not the guys that we compete against in the marketplace all the time are considered a small farm here in California a local production all that stuff. They’re doing a million Pasturebird s a week. That’s who we’re competing with and that’s not the big guys. That’s not the Tyson’s in the Foster Farms and produce of the world. Those guys are doing a lot more than that. I think that we need to get really good on execution. Price has to come into it as much as I hate that that’s a big part of this business price. I would say every time we can drop our price by another 20 percent we pick up eight to 10 times the market share that we have right now. And there’s a million chefs out there that would love to use pasture Pasturebird and have that story on the menu better do it. But I’m selling a dollar or two dollars a pound more than what they’re able to buy chicken for right now part of that’s their fault and they’re going to need to pay a little more.
Paul Grieve: [00:58:05] But part of it’s my fault too. I’m still out there feeding by hand. I have guys filling up 250 buckets a day of feed and dumping it into feeders and stuff. I’m moving all these pens manual and everything is still done manually. So a big part of what I’m looking at now is how do we still move Pasturebird s to fresh pasture every day but not have 50 cents or a dollar per Pasturebird in labor. How do we start to automate some of these processes. Yeah. The chicken industry is using augers to basically fill up a silo and feed 40000 Pasturebird s without a single human interaction. That’s hard for me to compete with right now. So how do I leverage some of the good stuff that they do in their industry and incorporate in some of the things that we’re doing at night. So what I’m seeing is that for pasture poultry really take off. It’s actually a technology issue. And so we’re working really actively engineering and our Randi on what what is the next big thing look like for pasture poultry on the production side.
Tim Young: [00:59:04] When you get to that point of engineering that these do you envision a model where you could open up in other locations across the country or is franchising a possibility I think the jury’s still out on that franchising comes with a lot of implications if you look at what true deep franchising really is.
Paul Grieve: [00:59:24] I thinkPrimal Pastures would lend itself to a franchise model better than Pastor Pasturebird wood passion Pasturebird . Yes absolutely I want to see it. I can’t say nationwide production wise because I think there’s an advantage to having 52 weeks per year production cycle and that’s just not possible in every climate nationwide. But there is sort of that deep south chicken belt that spans from California out to Georgia Arkansas that you could do chicken year around I would see maybe sort of a contract grower model just like the Tysons of the world have a fair and equitable. Not one that takes advantage and rip people off but something where I say all right here’s the coop style. Here’s how it works. You’re going to grow Pasturebird s. I’ll provide the chicken feed and you’re going to do the production and here’s where didn’t do our processing stuff like that. I think that could work great. A lot of the things that the industry does actually respect the vertically integrated model where you’re leveraging feed mills and hatcheries and slaughterhouse is an all. But the industry has taken it to the extreme where people get ripped off now which isn’t good.
Tim Young: [01:00:32] Just a couple more questions I’d like to say that we’re talking to a a typical if there is one. Sustainable livestock farmer out there. From a marketing point of view I’d like to know what you’ve learned in terms of tips that you can relate to that person. And of course there are things that worked five years ago and 10 years ago that may not work as effectively now. So if you were consulting someone now and say here’s the two or five or three things from a marketing point of view you need to do to build a loyal tribe. What are some of the things that come to mind for you.
Paul Grieve: [01:01:04] All right so one class that I actually teach is gorilla I call it guerrilla marketing for small farmers and in the beginning we had no money. Right. So a lot of these things depend. Do you have money or do you not have money in the beginning we didn’t have money. So I think a lot of people that are starting out don’t have a lot of extra money for marketing either. So I had to look for different ways that I could do either free marketing or even income based marketing what I call making money off of marketing because I didn’t have 500 bucks a day or 500 bucks a week to spend on Facebook ads or you know placing an ad in the stock and grass farm or something like that. One of those big wins for us is farm tours. So we’ve charged for our farm tours since day one. I get that we’re in Southern California so that works for us. But I want to use it as an example. We started out charging five dollars a head for farm tours and we do farm tours once so once a month twice a month sometimes we bring out 100 or 200 people and they pay five bucks to come see our farm which is amazing right.
Paul Grieve: [01:02:07] So I have an hour and a half with those people where I can talk about our story and our vision and show em our production practices and they’re paying me to do that. Meanwhile they’re becoming a customer for life because I’ve always felt like once somebody’s been to your actual farm. And spent time with you they’re going to be a customer for the rest of their life. Right. I mean that’s just they’ve spent the time they’ve invested and now they’re going to be with you forever and I’m making money to do that which just makes a lot of sense. Some other ones.
Tim Young: [01:02:36] Can I stop you on the farm tour for a second because that’s I think that’s a really great thing we did as well and we did the same as you we charged ten dollars a tour and we were two and a half hours from Atlanta. So I mean it’s still a long ways to go to drive out there but we still had 70 to 100 people a month that would come out there that’s all. And then of course we would get the ten dollars back towards a credit at the farm store if they wanted to buy something. Yeah but if they didn’t that’s fine. But the other reason why farm tours are good as it gets you out there and a lot of Web sites but there’s a lot of calendar sections out there that will link back to your site and promote that as well so it’s a kind of a hidden way to get your farm promoted. So what’s another tip beyond farm tours?
Paul Grieve: [01:03:15] Asking people to blog about you can be tough but there’s two tricks to it that I’ve found so we’ve gotten tremendous success getting picked up in the media and bloggers and people talking about us. First of all bloggers are busy all right. They don’t have time to go visit your farm and take pictures and do all this stuff that’s a big misconception. We developed a media kit right away that had professional photography so I paid a hundred and fifty two hundred bucks. I actually think that we’re getting we traded it for meat to get really beautiful professional images of our farm and me so that I could put that in say a dropbox folder with a write up about us and I could send that to different bloggers and different media outlets and say hey I think that’s a great story. Here’s everything you need to basically write an article. And that took a lot of the weight off of media companies to be able to just say Oh here’s an easy article that I can pick up and it looks great.
Paul Grieve: [01:04:05] You know let’s just do it. So we were picked up in Huffington Post AOL dot com M.S. And you know a lot of the big paleo primal blogs for free. I didn’t pay anything for that because we were prepared for the media get another one is offered a guest blog. Now that’s a great way to get your name out. These guys like I said again they’re busy they don’t have the bandwidth to be writing tons of content all the time in the beginning you do you know your time is is all you really have in the beginning. So I would reach out to these guys and say Hey I’d love to write an article about the difference between pasture raised and free range for example or I’d like to talk about the function of a gizzard for a chicken. You know just different interesting articles and I would write that stuff for free. They would post it they would link and back link to my site. It improves your SEO it gets people come to your site like crazy. And those three four strategies that we talked to 100 percent free. Right. I mean you can’t you got to look for these ways that you can market stuff for free in the beginning.
Tim Young: [01:05:05] Right. And you mentioned earlier of course you know that you were on a number of TV shows you’ve been picked up by countless media. Same thing happened to us. I mean you know early on I mean it was we’re like two years into a new york times came down to Georgia to visit us and then a four story on our farm CNN came out to our farm three times we were on the Cooking Channel we were in Southern Living we were on a Garden Gun magazine RFD TV all of all these places and people always thought like we were pitching stories but we never pitched the story what we did was we we did content marketing blogging on our own. We wrote and we podcasts about that. But if you don’t want to do your own blogging another way to do that as you said is guest appearances on blogs or do guest blogging or be on podcasts and again that goes back and play to your strengths.
Paul Grieve: [01:05:49] You’re a guy that’s not afraid to get in front of a microphone or camera and talk and your passion about what you do. Not everybody’s in that boat. So if you’re that guy that’s live in you know. You’re way out in the Midwest and you just want to be by yourself and do your own farm thing. That’s fine. But it’s going to be a lot more challenging a lot of ways you know and you’ve got to know where your strengths are. Maybe you should be a wholesale production farmer and you should look to go plant 10000 acres of corn if that’s the lifestyle that you want. If you want to be this direct to consumer kind of really out there in the marketplace cutting your own way I think it’s really important to be comfortable in front of a camera.
Tim Young: [01:06:27] Agreed. If you were starting a farm today let’s sayPrimal Pastures type farm what would your social media strategy be. You know which outlet would you choose. And you know would you really push hard on it. Or would it not be a big part of your strategy.
Paul Grieve: [01:06:42] Yeah. So that’s another thing in my guerrilla marketing course. I always say like you have to pick one or two you can’t do 20 different social media platforms right off the bat because just like the animal thing you’re not going to do them all well. Instagram is great. It’s very sexy right now. It’s image driven which is great for farms but does not have the targeting capabilities that Facebook does. So if I was going to choose I would say do Facebook and Instagram doing both really well to a high level it’s enticing to go towards the Instagram because you get those followers going and it’s fun and it’s all crazy.
Paul Grieve: [01:07:17] But at the end of the day you want Facebook is like second best behind your actual e-mail mailing list because of the ability to target the ability to drive ads eventually you want to start building up that following on Facebook but always say before Facebook before Instagram any social media figure out a way to start capturing leads by email because there is nothing that comes close to the power of an email into somebody’s inbox.
Tim Young: [01:07:43] Yeah. Music to my ears I’ve said this a thousand times I’ve done dedicated podcast episodes just on building your email list but yet I still see people that are worried about how many people like them on Facebook and likes me not doing nothing.
Paul Grieve: [01:07:54] Yeah it’s irrelevant.
Tim Young: [01:07:56] So another thing I notice that you’re doing on your your Facebook pages is you’re actually doing quizzes I think you’re doing lead pages to do your quizzes. Is that an effective tool for you to grow your email list.
Paul Grieve: [01:08:06] That’s awesome that you just saw that I actually stayed up till 3:00 in the morning last night doing that quiz. So it’s a I’ve always heard of these quizzes work it’s it’s someone trying right now. Again it’s a cheap test that I can cancel tomorrow if I want to. I think I think spent seventy dollars for lead quizzes as a platform my quiz is called something like Are you accidentally buying factory farm chicken. And it goes through a few pictures of do you think this is free range. Do you think this is organic and basically they have to put in their email to get the answers and then that puts them into my automation email campaign through MailChimp and so they’ll get kind of a slow drip of like three or four different emails that eventually comes to an offer from us which is you know our chicken variety box subscription or something like that but so far I mean I just checked the numbers this morning had 50 new subscribers in like two hours for basically for free. So yeah it looks like it’s going to be really really successful.
Tim Young: [01:09:06] Now we talked about farm tours before do you do any type of events to actually help other farmers or teach the farmers rather than trying to get customers for perennial pastures.
Paul Grieve: [01:09:15] Yeah for sure we do. We try to do a lot of events here. Our property is situated really nicely. Most of the time in the winter you know our our farm is really beautiful and sunny well everywhere else in the country it’s cold and rainy. So one thing that we have coming up in March is a full two day mastermind. So it’s in in conjunction with the grass fed life guys and Diego Footer who did permaculture voices podcast and conference. And so it’s gonna be one day with me where we’re gonna go through everything from production to sales and marketing and business funding financing small group. I think it’s like limited to 15 people for a whole day and then the other day is going to be spent with those guys. Darby Simpson and also Diego Footer going through all of their mastermind business stuff as well so absolute hardcore like I think it’s a thousand bucks or twelve hundred bucks but it 100 percent guarantee will be worth your effort and worth your time.
Tim Young: [01:10:12] So I’m actually glad that you’re charging what you’re charging four thousand two hundred bucks or whatever because you know I have a simple you know Academy to teach marketing which is 40 bucks a month sometimes I get pushback on that and I go Dude if that are any of these things bother you. That’s your test that you’re not running a business right there.
Paul Grieve: [01:10:29] Exactly. Exactly. So yeah I mean this course is really not for people that are probably not just starting out like you’re doing this you want to take it to the next level kind of thing. We’re going to give you so many tips and tricks and strategies on how to do that. A thousand bucks sure may sound like a lot but I can guarantee you you’re going to get your value times down out of that.
Tim Young: [01:10:52] Well sure I mean because you know otherwise you’re going to learn a lot of painful lessons out there. If you don’t actually get the right kind of training from people who’ve been there so got one more question for you given everything you said about your vision and your past so far. And that is how are you going to know when you’ve succeeded?
Paul Grieve: [01:11:08] True Blood entrepreneur is never I’ve never made it right like a if I would have said five years ago or you’re going to be doing three hundred thousand Pasturebird s in 2018 I would’ve said no way at that point. That’s enough for me I’m good. I’ve made it. That’s not the way you’re used mind really works. I want to see what I want to see what the potential of this thing is and so I consider this a success already if everything just fell apart tomorrow I’d be really disappointed but I’d be really proud of myself for what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve done. But I think the sky’s the limit on this thing man. I really think if we can we can keep growing and get the economies of scale. I don’t see why we can’t end factory farming you know and replace it with a mobile system for not just chicken but also let’s look at doing pig. Let’s look at feedlots. Look at all that stuff. I would love to be a part of that lasting impact multigenerational. Yeah. We’ve figured out how to move large you know large groups of livestock to fresh pasture every day and a regenerative way and stationary livestock is now a thing of the past. That’s my big goal.
Tim Young: [01:12:17] That’s awesome. But at some point you’re going to have your wife asking you the same questions mine asked me which is when is enough is enough. Why do you gotta keep working and it’s like dude I don’t have to keep working. I love working and it sounds like you do too.
Paul Grieve: [01:12:27] That’s. Yeah. And I didn’t before when I was at my desk job. It was hard for me had a Sunday night would roll around and I know my days comment and I’m just bummed out about it and it couldn’t be any more different now. I get three days into a vacation and all I can think about is new strategies. I can’t wait to get back. I can’t wait to do this. I mean it’s absolutely my passion and my love and I really enjoy what I’m doing and I feel Crosby I’m blessed because of that. A lot of people can’t say that they really love what they do on a day to day basis.
Tim Young: [01:12:57] Yeah you’re blessed. But then again you change your stars and you made your own path. So Paul how do people find out about you.
Paul Grieve: [01:13:05] We’re all over online. I mean you can you can look us up where Pastor Broadcom primal Pastor Scott you can connect with me anywhere LinkedIn and Facebook and everywhere else. A simple search of any one of those or Paul Grieve will pop you up and I’m pretty accessible online. So yeah anybody out there I’d love to connect with. Try to be really open and transparent online. So I hope to connect with a bunch of people.
Tim Young: [01:13:27] That’s awesome. Paul thanks so much for being part of small farm nation.
[01:13:30] Thanks for having me. That was fun.
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