- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - What are the secret ingredients for a successful food company in Detroit?

A doctorate in physiology and a brother who’s an actor, according to the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/NqVTdE ).

That’s the takeaway from Joe McClure, 33, of Royal Oak who founded the eponymous Detroit-based pickle company with the recently-returned-from-New-York Bob McClure, 35, of Berkley.

The brothers, whose 8-year-old company now generates $2-million-plus in annual sales, have since expanded their product line to include Bloody Mary mix (They’d already been advising Eastern Market customers to add tomato juice to the brine leftover in empty pickle jars, so why not make it formal?) and potato chips. (A friend told them their salty, juicy cucumbers went well with Better Made crunchers.)

In April, McClure’s will unveil its newest hybrid, a Bloody Mary-flavored chip.

These additions, along with manufacturing tweaks, point to an important tenet of the company run by two guys who aren’t MBAs: Listen to employees’ ideas.

“The key is we don’t rule ruthlessly, but we keep things rigid. We keep things tight. It’s not a dictatorship. We’re certainly up for any suggestions that come our way. If it makes sense, we incorporate it, great. If not, we won’t,” said the junior McClure - Dr. McClure, to be technical.

Examples of streamlining the production process include a more efficient way of rinsing jars, adding bumpers to the side of the line to prevent cucumbers from falling off and saving the small bits of cucumbers that break off during the pickle-making to juice for the Bloody Mary mix.

McClure’s makes 3,000-4,000 jars a day.

As important as timing is in a production line, it’s also crucial for a business launch.

“We grew up making pickles. It’s an old family recipe. It was a thing we had in our back pocket. It seemed normal,” Joe McClure said. “We don’t have a whole (kind) of branding marketing strategy behind us. What we do have is a story and really good product. That’s what we based everything on.”

That family feel trickle down, too.

The company employs 23 people, four of whom are in New York.

Joe McClure explained why the enterprise has a low employee turnover rate: “We pay them a fair wage. We try to make them as much a part of the company as possible. We want them going home at night and not shaming the company in any way.”

Now, the company is robust enough that the McClure parents and Bob McClure’s wife are finally on the payroll.

Joe McClure said he is confident the pickle path was the right one for him.

___

Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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