In such bad economic times, when many businesses are struggling and some are even failing, Savannah Bee Company has been fortunate enough to experience the opposite. We have had our share of growing pains during our first decade, and it hasn’t been easy, but sometimes we find ourselves thinking, “What bad economy?”Savannah Bee Company officially started in January 2002 and is finishing up its first 10 years in business. It has been a wild ride of growth and learning about how to handle a rapidly expanding business. For three years now, Savannah Bee Company has earned the right to be a member of Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest growing private businesses. Profits are expected to grow 50 percent over 2010.
An old beekeeper planted the proverbial seed for this business by placing his hives on Ted’s family property, when Ted was 12 years old. The love of honey and beekeeping was born and has remained with him for more than 30 years. Ted worked with bees for love and fun and served a term in the U.S. Peace Corps teaching beekeeping in Jamaica. It was not until an old friend opened a store in Savannah and wanted to sell Ted’s honey that he ever considered making money with his hobby. Other stores saw Ted’s honey on the shelves and began calling. Savannah Bee Company’s growth has snowballed since then.
Ted’s philosophy has always been to share his knowledge of honeybees and teach others how truly delicious a carefully crafted honey could be. Most people are familiar with the honey in the plastic bear on grocery store shelves, but the delicious taste and type of sugars present in Savannah Bee Company’s single-flower varietal honey far surpasses that.
“Even at 10 years of business, money is still not driving our ethic,” said Savannah Bee Company owner Ted Dennard. For example, we had a four-day bloom of tupelo trees this year. Because of the short blooming period, very little pure tupelo honey was made. We bought and bottled all of that we could find, but we refused to buy the tupelo honey that was mixed with other honeys and not of a high quality. Many people would not have noticed, but I would have. We gave up $400,000 in sales because we believe in only selling the best. Our business decisions are based on staying true to ourselves and not on just making money.”
However, a company needs money just like a healthy beehive needs honey in order to be stable and thrive. Our success has allowed us to support projects such as Heifer International, to which we’ve given more than $40,000 in the past two years. We believe in their goal to end world hunger, part of which includes teaching beekeeping to rural communities in developing countries. We also are supporting a sea turtle rehabilitation center on Jekyll Island with honey and money to help heal injured sea turtles. Our local community also sees support from Savannah Bee Company by our contributions and donations to numerous fund raisers and events.
Savannah Bee Company also has benefitted. Higher wages, and health insurance was introduced this year. We’ve created a fun workplace where people want to come to work. This year, we even added a daycare for those who have young children.
We are hoping to enter our second decade of business with expansion into global markets and with the introduction of many new honey products. Continued expansion will allow us to broaden our positive impact on the world. All products from bees are healthy and benefit the consumer as well as support beekeepers and their beehives. The benefit of supporting those many thousands of hives also has untold benefits to the environment. The honeybees must make more than 2 million visits to flowers to make just one pound of honey. The plant world is able to thrive and the birds and the animals are fed by all those increased seeds, nuts, and fruits that the honeybees have helped create through their pollination process.
So, like our friend the honey bee, we want to positively affect those around us. We strive to do that every day on an individual basis with each customer. We look for opportunities to do that locally and nationally. And we are excited to propel that ripple effect to reach the rest of the world.