California Broth maker moves the business to Medford

April 06, 2015 Back to News
By GREG STILES
Medford Mail Tribune

MEDFORD, Ore. — Southern Oregon wasn't on the radar for one of its newest commercial enterprises this time last year.

Ryan Harvey, a San Diego chef with an entrepreneurial bent, developed recipes for beef and chicken bone broth that he turned into a side business a year and a half ago.

Bare Bones Broth Co. shared space with a restaurant where Harvey cooked his specialty product at night. With online customers snapping up bone broth faster than he could produce the next batch Harvey and his wife Katherine began searching for a commercial kitchen to call their own.

“We were looking at old restaurants in San Diego,” Harvey said. “But location doesn't matter, because we're an e-commerce company. The stuff we did in San Diego could be done anywhere.”

Ultimately, they determined San Diego was beyond their price range.

“We had been looking for a contract manufacturer to make our products since we started a year and a half ago,” Harvey said. “We were in the process of working with one in Denver, but it fell through.”

In November, Alex Poythress, who runs a local marketing firm and is Katherine's brother, suggested they take a look at Medford. It made economic sense with lower lease and production costs, and it moved the operation 800 miles closer to its beef bone supplier — Bartels Farms in Eugene.

Business consultant Tim Thompson, said the Rogue Valley was a good fit for Bare Bones — which uses organic produce and bones from pastured and grass-fed animals — because of its resources and its affinity for the healthy living Real Food Movement.

“With their supplier in Eugene, it made shipping the original ingredients that much easier,” Thompson said. “Trying to cram the kitchen lifestyle into the San Diego lifestyle with its heavy expenditures and taxes would make it difficult to grow expand. It's just easier in Southern Oregon; and they had family in the area so it was an easy connection to make.”

After checking out the former Sakura Japanese Sushi restaurant location at 1206 N. Riverside Ave., a few blocks south of McAndrews Road, Harvey was sold on the Rogue Valley.

“I came up three weeks ago, checked out kitchen, and one week later drove up and got started,” Harvey said. “It was clear that it hadn't been used as a restaurant in some time, so most of the work to get going was demolition.”

Even with limited production schedules, leaving customers ranging across 40 states asking for more, the startup has pushed monthly sales to $32,000. Depending on how quickly the operation ramps up, Harvey estimates revenue will range between $500,000 and $600,000 this year.

Broths comprised 12.8 percent of the $4.7 billion soup industry during 2012. While overall soup sales remain flat, organic and healthy broths and soups have gained market share. Their customers typically view broth as fuel and medicine, to drink, cook and eat to optimal health.

“We make the product fresh every week,” Harvey said. “We were only able to make so much, and we were selling out every week. There was a lot of money and sales we weren't able to make because we weren't able to support demand; that's what this move is about.”

Rogue Valley manufacturers often encounter shipping challenges, but Thompson said Bare Bones' clients won't notice a difference.

“Shipping is an issue they had already solved with packages arriving at their door. With large enough orders they can get shipping for free using UPS or FedEx, the way they've been doing it from San Diego.”

Including the owners, the company will have four people on the job by month's end. The plan to add a handful more over the next six months to a year.

“We've been overwhelmed by hospitality we've gotten so far as we get this going,” Harvey said. “We've reached out to farmers and ranchers and everybody we've met and told them our plans has been really excited.”

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