Twenty Years and Still Smiling!
Wow! Twenty years have passed since we put this business together. In some ways, it feels like we have been crafting gourds forever. At other times, it all seems to have happened so fast. I’m still amazed that the seeds from two gourds found by accident turned into a dream that has lasted twenty years. It was during a trip to New England that I first saw fresh goose gourds at several of the farm markets. I bought two and took them home thinking that they were neat and might be something interesting to grow. I took the seeds out of them and then forgot all about them for several years. When I finally tried growing them, the response was overwhelming until all the other produce growers in our area began growing them as well. We were all trying to sell fresh goose gourds into a market that didn’t find it so special anymore. Our gourds that were once so special now lay in the fields not harvested.
Every other product a farmer grows rots and becomes unusable if left on the ground all winter. Our gourds did not, their wood-like shells just dried and left us with a beautiful shape to create something out of. So that’s what we did, having no idea if they would sell. When they sold much faster than we could make them, it didn’t take a genius to realize they were many times more valuable dried than fresh. This was the beginning of Meadowbrooke Gourds.
The early years were a time of finding and inventing many things. We needed the right people to build a dream with, create the system and tools to craft a product that few others were doing and refine the growing and drying of hundreds of varieties of hard-shelled gourds. We were all young and didn’t mind making lots of mistakes if we could learn from them. The most rewarding part of the early years was solving the big problems of how to efficiently grow, sort, wash, and craft gourds.
The middle years were a time of rewards. Our big problems were solved and our products were bought as fast as we could grow and craft them. We still had more to learn but didn’t realize it yet. We started to be satisfied with our products and our systems. It became ok to just do things as we had previously. Then came 2008 and the depression/recession. Suddenly, we had to become a lot more special because there were a lot fewer dollars available to be spent on arts and crafts.
I’m very proud that all of us chose to reduce our pay by 25% to keep from laying anyone off. That the family our company set out to create so many years before held up when times got tough. It took a while to adjust and to realize that all our past successes would just be the past if we didn’t learn how to constantly improve everything all the time.
We have spent these last years breaking and rebuilding a good company in an attempt to create a great company. You can only stay special as long as you are improving and learning. I hope you can see this in our products, our catalog and every time you meet our company family.
It takes an awful lot of people to make a company successful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all our employees, customers and suppliers. It takes all of us to make this dream possible.