Who are we at Dennis Farms? Myself, Kevin Dennis, my wife and my two teenage sons: a small family owned business. This business is essentially a hobby that got out of hand.
Back in High School, I helped my dad make a small amount of maple syrup as a hobby for several years. I kept a wood fire going under a cast iron kettle and added sap as needed.
I went to college, married and got a career in middle management.
In the late 1980′s, we moved from upstate New York to our current location, a 120 acre, very rural(1.5 miles of dirt road, I call it equally inaccessible from all points) farm in Northwestern Pennsylvania. I made the fateful comment to my wife, “There are a lot of maple trees on the property, let’s tap a few just for a hobby.
We started with 10 taps, 10 became 25, then 50. Pretty soon I bought an evaporator, built a sugarhouse and expanded to 700 taps on tubing. Now I have 4500 taps and plan to expand to 5000-6000 ASAP.
We started out selling at Arts and Crafts festivals. After two years, we decided to try wholesale. I attended the Chicago Gift Show in 1997 and met a sales rep. He got our products in most of the natural food grocers in the Chicago area. We eventually got our products in several distribution warehouses, and in natural grocers in most of the country.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Since the economy crashed in 2008, the natural grocery business has gotten much more difficult. To make ends meet, we have had to add a heavy schedule of Arts and Craft festivals again. We now are doing 30-40 festivals per year. Between the remaining Grocery business, the festivals and our online store, we are holding our own.