Home Back Issues March 2012 The market outlier

The market outlier

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012
Article Index
The market outlier
Page 2
0312_Profile_DonKruger_03
0312_Profile_DonKruger_04
AT TOP: Kruger's brand of salad dressings.
ABOVE: Kruger's markets sell affordable produce, Ghanaian baskets and other goods.
// Photos by Alexandra Shyshkina
Kruger shrank his staff and production and plodded along until 2004 when he got a call from his ex-brother-in-law about a batch of Ghanaian baskets he had acquired from a wholesaler. “I told him to send me 75 and I’ll give it a run,” he says. “They sold out that weekend.” That fall, he bought 8,000 baskets and sold a third by the end of the year. He then went to a North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association trade show in Sacramento to set up distribution to farms throughout the country.

Within a year he went from bankruptcy to a solid financial footing. He now sells roughly 40,000 baskets a year nationally, worth $500,000 in gross sales. With the added capital from the basket sales and with a firmer grasp on how to manage his farm, he started allowing weddings on his property.

In 2008 he bought the front 75 acres he had leased and entered into aggressive payback lease agreement for an additional 75 acres on an adjoining property. But Multnomah County said his wedding events violated land-use laws. After two years and $60,000 in legal fees, Kruger lost the case and with it a fourth of his income. Using what money and strained credit he had left, Kruger decided to do what he had wanted to do for nearly a decade. He was going to grow food and sell it in simple, low-overhead markets instead of high-overhead upscale markets. He started an open-air market in St. Johns in June 2010 and secured the lease at open-air produce market Uncle Paul’s in southeast Portland later that year.

Nearly two years later, Kruger’s Farm Markets are filled with affordable produce from Kruger’s old produce connections and his farm, and Ghanaian baskets. The southeast Portland market also has fish and meat from local vendor Flying Fish. He plans to invest $50,000 into the St. Johns Farm Stand to set up food carts, a bakery and a stand for Flying Fish. The 59-year-old Kruger is something of an outlier in the business. Few middle-age operators make the transition from traditional farm production to farm-direct, a transition that requires farmers to understand inventory management and have critical people skills.

“I could have four [markets]” says the unsinkable Kruger, who in the past always believed he was right.

“Whether it’s the right thing for me to do … I’m not sure about that.”

 



 

More Articles

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS