This week’s presenter for 1 Million Cups is Chefs Trading. Chefs Trading is a chef-owned and chef-operated complete food solutions and logistics company.
1 Million Cups Little Rock is the weekly programming event held each week at 9 a.m. at the Arkansas Venture Center, located at 107 E. Markham in downtown Little Rock catty-corner from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Participants hear from entrepreneurs and have the opportunity to network and engage with like-minded business people. It’s easy to participate: just show up, drink coffee, ask questions and talk business for an hour.
Talk Business & Politics’ Todd Jones asked Chris Wirges, co-Founder and CEO of Chefs Trading, a few questions in advance of his 1 Million Cups presentation on Wednesday morning.
TB&P: Where did the idea for Chefs Trading originate? What were you (and other partners) doing previously that led to this company?
Chris Wirges: The idea for Chefs Trading originated after Charles Dwan (Co-Founder/COO) and I had worked as chefs and traveled around the world and noticed a huge difference in the price of foods in Latin America and the price to chefs in Bermuda and other places.
We looked to help quality fishermen/farmers increase production and profits while also increasing quality and decreasing the costs to chefs in Bermuda and now across the USA and Caribbean.
TB&P: What type of growth have you seen in recent years and what do you see on the horizon?
Wirges: After starting with a few thousand dollars and an idea, Chefs Trading has doubled sales year-over-year and we are forecasted to do $1.4-1.5 million in sales this year and have taken on more wholesale customers and are expected to more than double sales next year.
We have developed an online platform for vendors and buyers that gives instant off-the-boat pricing from all over the world to buyers across the USA and Caribbean.
We currently have wholesale distribution in Bermuda, Colorado, Washington D.C., Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and across the East Coast. We have recently developed traceability software with our CT Tag that passes Boat and Captain’s Name, species name, method of harvest, map of area caught and a social media link to the chefs and end users at supermarkets.
On the horizon, we look to increase our sources, possibly move into other food categories in addition to seafood. And we also look to be able to sell direct to the public via our website in the future.
TB&P: You’ll be in a room full of entrepreneurs on Wednesday morning. What do you hope the takeaway for them will be?
Wirges: First to understand Chefs Trading and why we are so passionate about helping people and communities and also the importance of knowing where your food comes from, how it gets to you and the benefits for all that come from buying from direct sources.
Second, if you notice flaws in the status quo and have an idea that creates a win-win-win situation, with a lot of hard work, innovation, determination and business sense, you can succeed. I believe that if two chefs from Little Rock can effect change in the seafood industry then together we can all change the world for the better.
Believe in yourself, think different, surround yourself with people you trust and that are smarter than you in their own ways and empower them.