With his equally talented wife Lori by his side, Kirk’s response to the challenging current events inspired an overnight shift in his business model. Originally a restaurant fresh food service provider, he launched a home delivery service aimed at supporting his dedicated employees while also helping regional farmers and fishermen. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Kirk created a business clearly devoted to making a meaningful difference while answering an urgent need in our surrounding communities.
In a recent conversation with Kirk, he shared his insights for how he has built his business based on integrity, purpose and passion. With best practice protocols in place, Farmers & Fishermen is perfecting home deliveries of fresh fish, meats, produce, fruit and much more. It’s now a common sight in neighborhoods to see one of his fleet of Mercedes refrigerated vans delivering his recyclable custom boxes with a well-trained driver wearing a mask and gloves. Join me as we take a look into the fine-tuned engine of this food delivery powerhouse.
What inspired you to start Farmers & Fishermen?
I wanted to build a business with my son, Ben, and create an economic opportunity for prospective employees who I respect and treat as partners. My sole focus is to serve the community in a meaningful way.
How are you helping Jewish Atlantans?
I am trying to provide the food that they won’t find at extremely fair pricing. That includes Beef Brisket, Lamb, Veal, Salmon, Sea Bass and Grouper to name a few. Based on requests of my friends that keep Kosher, I have started offering Star-K Kosher Products including Lamb and Veal from Brooklyn, NY and starting Monday, Kosher Beef and Steaks. I am also offering fresh baked challah service on Fridays produced by my Israeli baker.
How does your business help Farmers and Fishermen regionally?
I have many long- standing relationships with area farmers and fishermen. The challenge in the agriculture community is that they put passion and skill to their endeavors and then are faced with the predicament at the time of harvest that they have to sell at whatever the market price is. Many times market is below their costs. So what we have done is establish a fair price for them, allowing them to make a fair profit on their work, which relieves a lot of the economic pressures. We also have a fast payment practice so they are able to cash flow their business. Lastly, most importantly, we bring them closer to the consumer and the consumer closer to them.
When did you know it was important to add serving at-home delivery?
On March 16, 2020, I quickly came to the realization that restaurants were being shut down by the government and people were going to have to do social distancing and self-quarantines. I had to quickly shift my entire model of business in order to keep my 35 employees working, receiving a pay check and truthfully…just give them hope for the future which was turbulent and causing anxiety for all. I realized then that if I shifted to an entirely new model and a Home Delivery then I could deliver my products straight to the home without any contact with our driver and it was a way to keep people safe. This was important to me. It was a way to get people the food they needed and keep them out of the stores. It became clear that as a company we were not just selling our restaurant quality products but really we were selling a SERVICE. It is one that I have taken very seriously and am extremely proud of my entire team at Farmers & Fishermen for all of their efforts with Next Day delivery.
Can you share who inspired you during your life and how that has impacted your employees?
When I was a young man, I went to my grandfather’s funeral. Like me he was in the distribution business and worked with a lot of warehousemen and truck drivers. These were tough men. I watched as they each approached his coffin, that they had streams of tears running down their cheeks. They all had a story on how my grandfather positively impacted their lives. My grandfather lived a good life and I promised myself that’s how I would run a business one day.
What practices are you instilling in your company at this time regarding Covid?
We have been fanatical about CDC guidelines all along the way. First of all, here’s how we have adjusted our day-to-day operation at our company facility:
Everyone that could work remotely from their home as to keep social distance and have the least amount of workers in the plant at any given time. No more than 9 people in the plant at a time. No guests are allowed in the building. When in bound trucks arrives, the drivers are not allowed inside the building. There are sanitizing stations throughout the building, everyone is washing their hands constantly, wearing masks and gloves where applicable. If a customer prefers to come to our facility to pick up a personal order they are instructed to go to the dock area in their car where they can pull all the way in and one of our Team Member Partners who has gloves and a mask on can put their order safely in their car.
Tell us about the delivery process and what makes it seamless for customers?
Customers go to the website and email their orders or most people call in and speak to one of our professionals to place their order. Orders are taken up to 10:00 p.m. The order is delivered to them the next day. All drivers call ahead when they are about 15 minutes away from the home. They are wearing a mask and gloves and ask where to leave the customer’s order. Most of the time it is at the front door or by the garage. The customer has either called ahead with their credit card information or they leave a check in a designated area. No cash is exchanged. No need for personal contact to get their payment and no tips are allowed. One of our drivers came up with the answer that the best tip you can give is to tell others.
What are some of your most popular food items?
Our fresh fish is amazing and we have had such incredible reviews on all of our fresh fish. In regards to fish, I would say that our most popular tends to be salmon, sea bass and tuna. Filets and rib eyes are popular steaks. We can tell that it has gotten warm and people are firing up their grills as burgers (both the smash burger and the special BBB burger) and Big Steaks/Chops for “Dad” has gotten very popular. Lastly, a box of boneless skinless chicken breast has been very popular and tends to be like a staple item.
You have a pantry of delicacies and lots of delicious add ons? Tell us about some of your favorites.
This is an area where you can get creative and have fun. For me, if it has the word Truffle in it, that is a favorite of mine! Challahs are flying out the door along with many of our marinades and gourmet items like our Lemon Infused Olive Oil.
Do you have any stories about how customers are thanking you?
I have been so appreciative of all of the great reviews and feedback we have and continue to get from the community. People love sending us their pictures of what they have cooked with our products and my wife, Lori, is posting them on Facebook with a #Quarantinecuisine so that others can see ideas of what to cook during their time at home. I feel like once we get a customer they are like an ambassador for the company and they are helping us spread the word. People love the quality and service they have received and just last night, Lori got an email message from Kenneth R. saying, “We had the halibut last night and it was amazing! Please tell Kirk (and Ben) we appreciate what they are doing for the community and how he’s going about it. Under these circumstances, it’s really been a game changer for us.” I think that quote about sums it up!
You work closely with your amazing wife Lori, share how she has helped you?
Lori has been a huge help to me. I have never worked from home and as of March 16th I have been working remotely and somehow took over our entire kitchen island and added tables. Other than Co-Chairing The Dinner of Honor for GHA many years ago, I have preferred to keep my personal life and business life separate. But now that has not been possible. Lori has been instrumental on helping me with PR, posts on various Facebook groups, and has helped me daily to help write up orders, handle VIP orders, answer questions for friends, scanning orders in, getting me set up on Zoom conference calls etc. Truthfully, we have been non-stop working since this all started and I am sure she will be glad to get her kitchen back one day in the near future!
What message would you like to impart and leave us on regarding your motto regarding the future of your company?
Before we started a Home Delivery model and were servicing restaurants, our motto at our company was “we are chasing perfection”. Now that motto has changed. Instead the motto is, “we must be perfect”.
Robyn Spizman is a New York Times Bestselling Author, Media Personality and Author of Loving Out Loud: The Power of a Kind Word (Sept. 2019).
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