The Great Gourmet is Kimberly Scott's way of introducing the world to Maryland seafood. Her Eastern Shore company sells crab cakes, oysters and clams to wholesale and retail markets.
In 2006, just three years after opening, The Great Gourmet was logging $1.8 million in revenue. Three years after that, Scott had revenue of $3.8 million, 15 employees and a place on Inc. Magazine's 500/5000 fastest-growing companies list.
With her company expanding, Scott turned to Richard Loeffler at the Eastern Region Small Business and Technology Development Center at Salisbury University in 2009 for advice about a small-business loan that would allow her to move from rented space to a building of her own in Federalsburg with more freezer space.
This month, the Baltimore office of the Small Business Administration named Scott the Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, an award to go with her 2005 Small Business Exporter of the Year honor.
Describe your business and background and tell us why you chose the field and how your has company grown.
I started in March of 2003 with two goals in mind: I wanted to sell crab cakes on QVC and I wanted to become a philanthropist. I have now been in business for over 10 years and in April my dream came true when I went live on QVC, selling crab cakes. I had previously worked at Sea Watch International, and being the young entrepreneur that I am, I thought, "I can do this myself, single mom with an 11-year-old daughter." So The Great Gourmet began, and I started with a website. The first year, I sold $13,000 in food, and I still remember the day my daughter went to the fridge and there was no food — and no money! I forgot to tell you, I started with $40 and I was one month behind in my mortgage.
You must have encountered peaks and valleys along the way. Describe a triumph and a stumble. What did you learn from each, and did you get a helping hand?
In 2007, we took a huge hit. The market had changed almost overnight, and food just drastically increased in price. I had just won my first huge contract with the state of Maryland, and my suppliers reneged on their pricing agreement with me. I had a choice to make — do as they did and never sell food to the state of Maryland again or honor my contract and take the losses personally. I lost $200,000 that year and my banker asked me when I was going to quit the bleeding. He wanted me to shut down, but I still had drive and determination and I knew I could make it. I just didn't want to give up, so I dropped to my knees and turned the company over to God and prayed. I asked for direction, and God said, "CRABS!" I did ask God what kind of crabs. I have tried to be a good disciple and follow God's direction. Every since that day, I have focused on selling crab cakes. Since that time, I have a new banker and have grown to over $5 million in sales annually.
Your company, with 39 employees, punches above its weight, taking on bigger companies, getting on QVC and reaching out to the European market. Where does that fearlessness come from?
The fearlessness comes from the fear of failing. I don't use "no" in my vocabulary. But when you turn your company over to God – there is no fear – it makes life a lot easier.
Your passions are ending hunger and child abuse. How did you choose your causes and decide how to channel your energy?
Child abuse is an issue that is close to my heart, and I will always have a special passion to help in any way. I believe abuse is so destructive, and it doesn't matter what form the abuse takes. It is crippling to those who are affected by it. Over the last few years, we have moved into a position where we have been able to make numerous donations to area food shelters and local churches.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Be prepared for the hours. I lost valuable time with my daughter that can't be returned. So you have to be prepared the sacrifices. The gift that I have been given is a second chance. My daughter, after graduation from Salisbury University, has become the vice president here at Great Gourmet and I get to work with her side by side daily.
Education: Wor-Wic Community College, Associate of Applied ScienceCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun