Hi, my name is Ryan Ford, I am the president of Seven Hills Food Company. We started a Virginia branded meat business in Lynchburg in an old shuttered meat plant that has existed in the community here for over 100 years. And, I started this business as an expansion of a local meat business that I started about 13 or 14 years ago. We started with a couple of small butcher shops and kind of made a commitment to trying to source locally grown meats and it’s sort of grown into a bigger thing. We’ve made the next move to integrate our businesses in trying to make a bigger impact in the industry. One of the biggest challenges I think that entrepreneurs face and that I’ve faced in starting this company is that often times there isn’t a road map. You can try to read a book, you can read an article, you can talk to people, but when you’re trying to figure out the solution to a problem and how to approach it- you’re really kind of- you are taking a chance but you’re kind of doing something where you’re not necessarily following a proven game plan and I think that’s what makes it exciting and I guess by nature that sort of makes it entrepreneurial. I would say that having started a couple of businesses, a lot of times you can overcome that challenge by believing in your solution. You typically have to have a solution to something right? A better product, a better service and I think if you feel confident in your solution or your product then the challenge of not really knowing or having the confidence where everyone is telling you “yeah you’re doing it the right way” or “this is how you do it”, you just kind of have to roll with it. I actually think that the biggest challenge can be overcome if you really believe in what you’re doing. I think success for us, I mean the word “sustainability” is used a lot in food production and for us it’s coming up with some permanence and having sustainable relationships with the people that we work with that raise the meat and also the people that turn around and essentially cook the meat. For us, that really defines our success is being able to have something that becomes more accessible to more people in our community. Maybe the answer you would hope for to what is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur is that it’s really not hard. It’s kind of something where I feel like the most successful people or the people who are the happiest are people that are entrepreneurial, and so I feel like it sort of becomes part of who you are, everything that you do. One of the misconceptions is that an entrepreneur is really just somebody who has a great idea and does something about it. So, there are entrepreneurs that have the great ideas and maybe aren’t great business people and there are people that are good business people that don’t have great ideas but I think the thing that most people have in common that would be labeled entrepreneurs is that they are sort of willing to step outside of convention. The advice that I would have for someone looking to start a business in Lynchburg, I’ve started businesses in Charlottesville and this is the first- starting Seven Hills in Lynchburg- it’s the first time that I’ve been engaged with Economic Development Authorities and directors and it’s the first time I’ve sort of had people helping me at the city or municipal level. I would highly recommend that approach, especially in Lynchburg. I sort of like to do things myself and am kind of the last one to ask for help, but you’re making a mistake if you don’t reach out here. I just can’t be thankful enough for how much help and support that I and our businesses received. So, as far as any advice for entrepreneurs in general, I do think there’s one thing that I’ve seen relative to, that stretched across a couple of different businesses that my wife and myself and my family have started. A lot of times people make the mistake of trying to satisfy or trying to figure out what people want, but a lot of times if you kind of take what you want and then sort of push that out there, a lot of times that’s a better approach. Typically if you kind of trust yourself and you trust your ideas and you trust your tastes and you kind of roll with it I’ve found many times you sort of always sometimes surprise yourself and you figure out that hey what I’ve thought people wanted and what we did this wasn’t the right way to go. I think that kind of speaks to the question of becoming an entrepreneur and you sort of just have to kind of, you know, trust your gut and go.
About Seven Hills Food Company
Ryan Ford is the president of Seven Hills Food Company.
|Author||Seven Hills Food Company|
|Date Added||November 11, 2016|
Welcome to the Launched In Lynchburg Series! Each month, we feature a different local entrepreneur. This month, we're featuring Ryan Ford, the president of Seven Hills Food Company.
Seven Hills Food
Seven Hills Food is a multifaceted team of passionate individuals committed to fostering a sustainable regional food economy here in Virginia. We have begun with an abattoir and a meat company. These projects will make food from Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic more readily available in our region and beyond. By developing a network of producers, processors and distributors, Seven Hills Food will facilitate the growth of our area's rich food ecosystem.
Seven Hills Abattoir
Seven Hills Abattoir is a the largest independent slaughter facility in Virginia. Purpose-built as an abattoir in the early 1900's, the building's brick walls are a reflection of Virginia's deep agricultural and industrial roots. We have infused the historic physical space of the abattoir with modern meat processing technology - both software and hardware - to make our processes safer and more efficient. This marriage of history and technology will help us provide our customers new-world precision with old-world flavor and care. From custom packing for smaller Virginia farmers to wholesale orders for grocery stores, butcher shops and restaurants, Seven Hills Abattoir is the top resource in the region for beef, hog, lamb and goat processing.
Seven Hills Meat Company
Seven Hills Meat Company is a wholesaler of premium Virginia meat products. By sourcing directly from producers and cooperatives, we take the time to learn about the high quality products that growers entrust us to process, market and sell. We seek to maintain that transparency throughout the process, from grower to customer. We are here to work with producers both small and large to bring a variety of Virginia meat to the market.