Morsels Bakery in Traverse City, Michigan is the brainchild of Misha and Jeff Neidorfler, a husband and wife team who have seen tremendous success since they opened in 2008, including being nominated for the past four years for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award.
They specialize in creating bite-sized pieces of deliciousness called “morsels” that are baked fresh daily and offered in a wide variety of flavors. Their first Morsels Bakery, located on a busy downtown main street, carried a full line of morsels, great coffees, breakfast dishes, sandwiches and salad. They also provided catering services; their morsels have become a familiar sight at many popular community festivals and activities, including the National Writers Series and Traverse City Film Festival, because they cleverly name their morsels after the guests (authors, filmmakers, celebrities, etc.) that appear at an event. Since then they have added two locations, one in Traverse City, and one in Boca Grande, Florida, with the same menu and many of the same services.
Their expansion has continued in other ways, too. Since opening in 2008, their average annual revenue has increased by 33%; and from 2008 to 2013, foot traffic has increased 315%, coffee sales increased 894%, food sales increased 1,300% (yes, that’s right, 1,300%), and the number of employees has grown from 6 to 17. Morsels net profit was 20% in 2013.
“While the morsels themselves are unique, what makes us stand out is our commitment to quality across the board with all of our products as well as our customer service and overall experience.” says Jeff Neidorfler. “We think about the consistency of our brand from advertising to packaging and from how we treat our customers to our level of community involvement. Our staff knows it, and our customers expect it. It's a wonderful challenge to try to exceed those expectations every single day!”
Early on Morsels took advantage of SCORE’s services and to this day they attribute much of their success to the valuable information and support they have received. SCORE mentors provided guidance with their business plan which led to the Neidorflers securing a $150,000 SBA guaranteed loan and a lease on their first building.
As growth opportunities and other issues arise, they continue to seek periodic input from SCORE mentors who have helped them with ideas, contacts and resources. The Neidorflers say they have come to view SCORE as their “business therapist”!
Established in 1985, K Drive Greenhouse began as a wholesale bedding plant grower serving customers in the Detroit and Chicago areas. The former owners would invite friends and neighbors in to purchase plants right from the production facility. As word of their quality and service grew, so did their retail business. In 1994 they constructed their first dedicated retail area on site. Today, K Drive Greenhouse has grown to an acre of retail sales area and still produces 95% of the product sold.
In 2006, Hollis retired after more than 50 years in the industry and sold his share of the business to Josh Bell. Josh grew up in the greenhouse business and brought not only his skills as a grower but a passion for a diversity of plants. K Drive Greenhouse now grows over 750 varieties of annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs in order to provide customers with the best selection in the area. K Drive Greenhouse is constantly looking for the best performing new plant varieties to provide the best value for its customers. With a mix of old and new production techniques, K Drive Greenhouse strives to give its customers the quality and service they have come to depend on for the last 25 years.
Bell successfully partnered with the Michigan Certified Development Corporation and Omni Community Credit Union to obtain an SBA 504 Loan to finance the final piece of ownership of the growing operation. Today K Drive Greenhouse is a premium garden center serving Battle Creek, Albion, Lakeview, Springfield, Harper Creek, Jackson, Coldwater, Marshall and Bellevue.
Sue and Kevin Burns never dreamed that a botched batch of laundry would turn their world upside down. That’s exactly what happened when Kevin accidently washed one of Sue’s wool sweaters, rendering it useless. Unless…Sue began thinking…she could someone reuse the beautiful wool and make something for her daughter. And that was the beginning of Baabaazuzu, a little company that started from one useless article of clothing.
That was in 2007 and today, Baabaazuzu is a manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer of fashionable clothes for women. The company has received six SBA guaranteed loans to grow the business. The most recent loans, approved in 2011, helped the company with inventory and marketing. Baabaazuzu also received a State Trade and Export Promotion grant administered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and funded by the SBA. The grant enabled the company to participate in a Canadian trade mission. The trade mission was a complete success with new export sales in both Ontario and Quebec. The couple was able to develop new manufacturing relationships and now have the tools in place to have a greater presence in the Canadian market. They also were able to identify potential barriers to entry such as translation into French. Finally, they were able to call on established accounts to reinforce those relationships.
Over the years, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center business counselors provided substantial assistance to Sue and Kevin with marketing, and sales, financial analysis, and cost controls. The SBTDC is an SBA funded program.
The future looks bright for Sue and Kevin Burns. The will be launching a new Spring line to become less seasonal and a men's line to broaden their customer base.