When I visit a processor for a cover story, I occasionally hear people tell me how lucky I am to be able to travel across the country and spend time with the companies I profile. The travel occasionally gets to be a grind, but there is something special about visiting a plant, meeting the management and watching the production first hand. If brings a degree of closeness that you’re just not able to get from a phone call or an email chain.
A few years ago, when I was in Chicago for a trade show, I took time to go downtown and find one of the city’s hot meat spots. West Loop Salumi was crammed into a tiny space on Randolph Street, not too far from Oprah Winfrey’s studios. The owner and operator, Greg Laketek, welcomed me in and told me about his journey into the world of charcuterie. He let me sample all of his fantastic products. It was a great experience and was a fun story to write.
That business, sadly, did not last. However, those marvelous charcuterie products are still around today, thanks to a new partnership with Moesle Meat Co., a longstanding Chicago processor. With room to grow, a growing list of foodservice and private label customers and a burgeoning retail side, Salumi Chicago is poised for big things. With so much buzz around charcuterie these days, Laketek has found a better environment that he once had.
As much as processors like to focus on their success stories, the fact of business is that not every brilliant idea works. Not every relationship proves successful, and not every new product finds an audience. Failure is a risk that comes with every new venture. You can’t eliminate that risk. At best, you can try to minimize it through careful planning, but sometimes the worst case scenario happens.
Should an idea fail, the best you can do is try to extract as much positive out of the experience as you can. What did you learn? Will you do something differently the next time? The natural reaction to failure is to dwell and to mope, but that doesn’t lead to a good mental place. As hard as it may be to pick yourself up and move forward, that will ultimately lead you to a better situation. IP
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