Achatz Handmade Pie Company
We never sat down to write our Mission Statement. Honestly, I didn’t know what a Mission Statement was in 1993.
In the early years, when Dave and I first started our business, like so many other new start-ups, we didn’t have a large bank account or access to a group of investors. Therefore, we couldn’t hire and build a team of business folks who would help us launch this new business. But really, even if we did have lots of cash in 1993 we didn’t have the business acumen to write a business plan or set up a team of business people. So we jumped in with both feet, did what we knew to do, and that is work really hard.
So as that first year unrolled, we made a few dozen pies every week, and by mid summer we were making and selling over 100 pies each Sunday at the Market. I asked (told) my little 14-year-old sister, Alexandra, that she had to help me sell pies every Sunday our local Farm/Flea Market. As the summer went on, we got even busier. I asked her to bring a friend, we needed more help setting up the tent and tables, taking cash, making change and bagging up pies for customers. Qualifications? Need to know how to add and subtract in your head and make proper change. So my kid sister brought her smart friend, Stacey! I know these two 14 year olds set a strong work foundation in their early years. They learned how to work hard, think on their feet, be sweet to customers and hang tough during these years working outside at the farmers markets.
These were hard years. Isn’t that why a lot of people who don’t have large bank accounts start out in business, to make a better life for themselves and depend on nothing but sheer grit, just trying to stay ahead? But when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to pay the bills and still be in business for the next six months, it’s hard to focus on any other mission…like writing an inspiring Mission Statement?
I’m thinking about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the bottom couple of layers of his pyramid. Can you imagine if a company was honest and posted their mission statement off of Maslow’s “Theory of Human Motivation” and it said something like, “We are in business so that we can buy food & water for ourselves, keep warm, feel secure and safe and have some stability”? That’d be the truth for many and it probably wouldn’t be wrong. (I think a person in this position that is starting a business would still be holding down another full time job as well, I know we did) As I reflect back, I think our early Mission Statement would have been something like; “At Achatz Handmade Pie Co. we work hard to make great tasting pies so that we can pay the bills, take care of our five young children, keep food on the table and roof over their little heads.”
During the early 2000’s we had established a strong business. Our mission at that time may have been: “Our Mission at Achatz Handmade Pie Co. is to find hard working people that will help us manage the business so that we can continue to make great tasting pies.” We couldn’t do it by ourselves any longer; we were desperate and needed help managing the business. We needed a team that would work like us until all the pies were baked and on the truck for delivery. We found many people with these strong work ethics and knew in order to keep hard working people engaged, they’d need more than just their basic needs met as Maslow stated. We felt good about our Profit Sharing 401K program, a higher wages, and many of the other good benefits our company offers. But we knew there was a higher level of business, more than just the pay…and smell of apples pies baking!
At the top of Maslow’s five-layered pyramid there’s Self Actualization. I’m thinking of Blake Mycoskie founder of TOM’S and the mission of his company:
“With every product purchased, TOMS will help a person in need, One for One®. Consumer purchases allow TOMS to give in over 70 countries around the world through our network of TOMS Giving Partners. TOMS currently helps give shoes, restore sight, provide safe water, support safe birth, and stop bullying.”
I believe Blake saw a need and had a calling to help. When you are at the top of Maslow’s phycology pyramid you know what your calling is. If you read up on Blake, you find he had been given many talents and he started out in a higher station in life than many of us. Blake had the opportunity to receive a higher education and travel the world. But what he saw while traveling was a tremendous need. So he started a mission business; he did not put profits and sales first! Very honorable and his business certainly resonates with so many people. This is not to say that you can only help others when you’re at the top of the pyramid. I know many people, without a lot of funds that give 10% of their paychecks weekly to support mission work and what they value. Point is, don’t wait till you have all of your needs met perfectly to start giving and helping others when your heart calls. So Blake showed the world that a mission-based business could also be a financially successful business. TOM’S really resonated with me.
What is our callings as we’ve moved into a higher level of business? “Source the best possible ingredients”? What I know now is that Achatz Pies stands as the conduit between farmer and consumer. We listen to our customers, and then let the farmers know what to plant or raise. As consumers we are awaking to the facts that agro chemicals are polluting our water, air and tearing down the soil. We don’t want weed killer and pesticides residue in our food. So we’ve are continually looking for “the best possible ingredients” truly.