Making investments in the business helped Marjon Specialty Foods grow its customer base.
[John Miller] Well, my wife visited my sister in California, and she went to the supermarkets and saw bean sprouts in packages in the supermarket. And this was very surprising because we hadn't seen anything like that here in Florida.
[Marcia Miller] And I was amazed because I thought the only way you got bean sprouts was to grow them yourself, like I did at home, put them under the sink.
[John Miller] When she came back to Florida she went to several supermarkets to find out, "Oh, okay, where are the bean sprouts?" And they said, "Well, we don't have any. Nobody growing bean sprouts in Florida."
[Marcia Miller] He said, "We're going to start bringing them in from California," I thought, no, get them from a local grower, and that just was the spark that I needed to get going on a new adventure.
[John Miller] We started growing these in—we got some trash barrels from Kmart, I think, and drilled holes in the bottom. And we put seeds in there and started watering them.
So over a period of time, our dumpster was full of mistakes, trial and error. We got very disappointed at times, and then we'd have a good crop and we'd say, "Okay, this came out good. Let's do some more of this."
[Marcia Miller] We started with bean sprouts. And after, oh, I don't think it was even a year was up that we decided we wanted to go into alfalfa sprouts. Pretty soon, we were up to about 150 different products. As we saw the company grow, we were so crowded. There was no place else to go so we looked here in the Plant City area because we thought this would be a great place for business.
[John Miller] And we moved into researching the food service industry and what products we could do in that industry, which would be servicing schools, supermarkets. But also produce companies. And we found a good opportunity there and developed that into many different products.
[Marcia Miller] As our company grew, and we grew pretty fast for a while, we were using so much labor and some things that really we found that we could do so much easier with a machine. And we went to SunTrust. We went to Robert Subko and told him that we really need a form fill machine.
[Robert Subko] They came to me and said that they had this machine that they were looking to purchase. And it was going to replace about 10 people to be reutilized throughout the plant but they were doing everything by hand and I had seen that before. And so we kind of looked down, found out how much everything was going to cost, kind of came up with a structure, talked it through. And luckily, we were able to get it all done for them and get it into a nice, tight financing package for them, good rates, payment systems that they liked. I think we were able to even stretched the amortization a little bit because of the price of the machine to get it into a reasonable payment for them.
[John Miller] We now were producing the products quicker, faster and so forth. And now we were running out of room. Where are we going to put these products? We had an existing cooler, which was totally maxed out. We had the products stacked in the hallways. We had it stacked everywhere so it was really very inefficient. And so we needed a new cooler, a bigger cooler to put the products in.
[Robert Subko] So we came in with a plan to get a new cooler system for them. It was going to be much bigger than what they had. About double the size of what they had. So I kind of outlined the steps: that they needed to come up with a contractor first, get a contract, see what the prices were going to be.
We were able to condense a couple of other loans that they had and kind of bundle them together, make one big loan for that. We dropped the interest rate on the old loan they had by about two points so it was a pretty hefty savings on that side.
[John Miller] We thought it was kind of great that Robert came up with the idea of taking a couple of loans we had and moving it into a bigger loan, which is more like just a big real estate type loan. We thought it was very creative and it helped us out a lot.
[Robert Subko] Part of the reason is they're so open with themselves and what they want to do in their plans. And they're very good about looking ahead, looking into the future, knowing what they're going to need, and then coming to us, giving us enough time to kind of develop a plan together. They give us all of the facts, everything that they're looking to do. And it gives me an opportunity to go back to my partners and kind of come up with a comprehensive plan on the action steps that we need to take to meet their goal.
[Marcia Miller] I believe if you want to work with a bank that you really need to build a relationship with them. And you just have to find that you're very honest with them, and they will be honest with you. And SunTrust has been wonderful for us. And we can't thank them enough for all the opportunities they've given us. And we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn't for SunTrust helping us.
Making investments in the business helped Marjon Specialty Foods grow its customer base.
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