Grocery delivery services are becoming increasingly popular — this is, after all, the on-demand age.
But Tony Brusco said the growth of his Middletown-based farm-to-home company is also tapping into something else.
“There’s a certain sense of feeling good about the food you’re getting when you know who is producing it. I don’t know if ‘security’ is the right word,” said Brusco, CEO of South Mountain Creamery.
The Frederick County business offers delivery of dairy, beef, produce and other farm items to about 9,000 customers within a 70-mile radius of its base, encompassing parts of Maryland (including Baltimore), Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Washington.
Farms in many states deliver dairy products, vegetables and meats directly to homes. An increasing number, including South Mountain, also offer prepared items such as soups and salads.
Brusco was one of the creamery’s founders, managing the company for years.
South Mountain began delivering in 2001. Its first deliveries came out of the back of a Ford Explorer. The company got its 1,000th home-delivery customer three years later.
Brusco and his wife, Abby Sowers Brusco, left at the end of 2009 to launch a new farm-to-door delivery company called Hometown Harvest, offering vegetables, fruit and herbs.
Now the companies, which began partnering on deliveries last year, are in the process of becoming one.
“Our roots are the same,” Brusco said. “My in-laws, who own the creamery, are retiring this year. We came back and said we’ll buy them out, basically.”
Legally, the creamery and Hometown Harvest remain separate entities, “but that’s just a matter of paperwork,” he said. “We will be one company legally in a few months.”
The company will operate under the South Mountain brand, which was the more established of the two. The Hometown Harvest logo will appear on the company’s produce bags.
About 90 people are employed, including farm workers, creamery plant workers and delivery drivers.
“This time of year, the produce has been doing really well,” Brusco said. “You can order a whole case of berries or a whole case of peaches. Our ice cream is pretty popular here lately. We make it ourselves. It’s packed in insulated boxes with dry ice in it.”
Milk is always a big seller, and not only because of the convenience of delivery.
“Nostalgia is part of that — that wholesome feeling of having a milkman,” Brusco said.
Title: Owner and CEO, South Mountain Creamery
Education: Frederick High School
Birthplace: Sarasota, Fla.
Family: Wife, Abby Sowers Brusco (married 20 years in August); son, 16; daughter 13.
Interests/hobbies: “Running a small family business and working on a farm along with two teenagers keeps me pretty busy.”