My name is Jonnel Sloane, married with two boys Kiran and Jordan. I was conceived in a hippy commune in Mendocino, California in the 70's. My dad was in a 7-piece band complete with a full horns section called, "The Mendocino Allstar". I moved around a lot before I met my wife Susan, a Canadian in California. Then, we later immigrated to Canada. I became a permanent resident in February 2015. Before Farm 2 Fork I worked as a national sales trainer for various door to door meat companies in the USA. I have knocked doors and sold meat in over 35 US states. In my 10 years of being in this industry and traveling to different US cities, I have seen some interesting things and also spoken to interesting people. You really get to know and read the mindset or behavior patterns: how people think and react when you are in the privacy of their homes. I started my business here in Canada in late 2013 with no dime to my name and no ability to get funding because I had no credit. I ended up putting a down payment on a NISSAN NV van and got the dealership to buy the retrofitted custom freezer and include it in the financing with a credit card that my wife had and hoped for the best. I was so grateful for my connections in the industry in the US and was able to convince a meat broker and good friend RICK "PAPA" DUBE from Colorado's Choice to get one of the major plants in Chicago, IL to get export labels done allowing them to ship to me in CANADA. This was a very difficult thing to do, they took a huge gamble - meaning risks. The US dollar improved and the Canadian dropped due to the oil prices crashing and bringing product from the USA was no longer feasible. My idea first started out under the name "Home Food Solutions". I was to become the M&M meat shops on wheels and sell frozen meats and foods to homes by way of door to door and build up routes and offer home delivery. As I started going door to door in Ottawa and various other surrounding towns and cities I was getting a lot of feedbacks from people that they were looking for naturally raised, local and organic meats. I sensed quite a disconnection between farms, retailers and consumers. With this discovery and feedback, I rebranded our company in late 2014 and became Farm 2 Fork with the idea that "Better Food is Better Living”. We believe that people are becoming increasingly passionate about the food they eat and where it comes from.
Why is the “Farm to Fork” concept important to me?
The Farm 2 Fork concept is important to me because I feel we are bridging the gap between farms, producers and the consumer. We offer the best quality product and most of all have a value system and transparency associated with it. We bring these products under one umbrella and offer different product collections for different consumers. These collections also cross over with each consumer, an example could be: one customer might order organic chicken breasts and a Japanese A5 Wagyu tenderloin steaks.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdle was starting with no bank or private funding and just a $2500 limit on a credit card that I used as down payment to buy our delivery truck. I convinced vendors to give us products to sell on credit and thats how we got started. We sold our meat products through direct marketing (door to door sales). There was a lot of negotiation skills needed and faith. Nobody knew who we were and we had no track record so it took a lot of convincing individuals to do business with us.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Principles by Ray Dalio is what I am currently reading. I suggest you read books that would help you to take personal inventory of your life, encourage and challenge you to make changes spiritually, mentally and physically. Once you create a balance in those areas you are more likely to succeed in whatever area of business you commit to because you are healthy, balanced and able to make the right decisions even when disappointments come your way. Here are some books to check out:
The Four Agreements - Miguel Diaz
Braving the Wilderness - Brene Brown
Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose - T.D. Jakes
12 Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
The only contention that I had and may still have is, I work long hours and it takes me away spending time with my family. Sometimes that is hard for me, my wife and my kids. I feel like I am missing out on moments I will never get back. That is a tough pill to swallow and I encourage anyone starting a business to seriously think about the time they might have to spend away from family and what this might do to the dynamic of their close relationships
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I would say my work ethic and willingness to develop the skills to draw knowledge from others about things I did not know about in relation to my goal or the direction of my business. Sometimes this requires being humble and open minded. Even if it looks and sound stupid in front of others because of your lack of knowledge.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
To be a great listener and be able to give up and quit wasting time on things that are not relevant or are counter productive to success. Things like social media.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
I would advise they create a plan and have work routine. Be faithful to that routine and know your boundaries. Be willing to do the things that are painful and spark an emotion of fear. Be faithful over the small things and you will become ruler over much. Build slowly if you can and don't get over your head. A little failure is easier to recover from than a bigger one and you will fail along the way.