Wendell Estate Honey bagged a dragon Sunday.
The MacNutt, SK.-based honey producer appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den seeking an investment of $200,000 to help them produce and market an upscale honey product.
Martin Neuhofer, who handles marketing for the area producer said they have traditionally sold their production in bulk, a minimum order being a semi-load, which was usually handled by a broker, so their honey could end up in any number of products and under a range of labels.
“We’ve only sold honey wholesale bulk in barrels,” he said.
To diversify their sales Neuhofer said he wants to develop a line of Wendell Estate Honey products for the high-end consumer market both domestically and abroad.
The business had already undertaken its first run of product, soft-creamed-honey presented in jars, with sales in Canada, as well as Japan and China.
Neuhofer made the television pitch and drew offers of investment from three dragons; Kevin O’Leary, Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving.
Neuhofer would eventually accept Trelving’s offer of $200,000 for 25 per cent ownership of the business, with the added caveat he would be a 50/50 partner in terms of future business decisions.
Neuhofer said garnering three offers was more than he had imagined.
“I was unprepared for that,” he said, adding “I had prepared myself for a lot of negativity.”
The three offers left him in a conundrum who to take on as a partner.
“I was stumped who I should chose,” adding he really had not researched the individual dragons to know who would be the best strategic partner. “I was a bit out of the loop on that.
“I was not prepared for the positives.”
Both O’Leary’s and Dickinson’s offers included changing the product name to one of their own labels, and that was something which factored into Neuhofer choosing Treliving. He said one of the goals of adding jarred honey to the operation was to “to give us a bit of brand recognition for our honey.” To have it under someone else’s label would not be much different from selling bulk honey.
Treliving was also someone Neuhofer said he saw as local, having come from Virden, MB originally. He added he later learned Treliving’s first wife was originally from MacNutt.
While the episode of Dragon’s Den Neuhofer appeared only aired Sunday, response has been quick.
“We did get a fair amount of responses,” he said. “They started right during the show.
“Today (Monday), the phone’s been ringing off the hook.”
Having been warned responses could be somewhat overwhelming Neuhofer said they have a public relations form handling email and Facebook responses, leaving him able to concentrate of calls which have already generated orders. He said ultimately that was what they hoped for out of the appearance, wanting publicity for the product as much as dragon dollars.
While Neuhofer and Treliving shook hands on the Dragon’s Den set, the deal is not yet consummated as the two parties go through a due diligence process.
“The … process has started,” said Neuhofer. “… We kind of joke the suits (lawyers and accountants) have it now.”
Wendell Estate Honey has been a family-ran operation at MacNutt since it was established in the 1940s by John Wendell. Today operated by Tim and Isabelle Wendell the farm runs some 3,000 hives spread across a 200-mile radius of MacNutt.