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From micro to macro: Windsor meal delivery service expands

Thursday, June 30, 2016

By: Natasha Marar, Business Advisor

There was little time to spend in the kitchen last year when 24-year-old Sara Ducharme was preparing for her first body building show.

“I was working full-time and working a part-time job, and training for the show was like a full-time job. Trying to do my meal preparation on top of it all was something I found hard to fit in. It took probably 4 or 5 hours every weekend,” said Ducharme.

Ducharme discovered companies online offering home-delivered, healthy meals in Toronto; she wondered why such a service wasn’t offered locally.

“That’s what sparked the original idea,” she said adding, “I used to do my own meal preparation and post it on social media and people would always ask, ‘when are you cooking for me?’ So finally we decided to go ahead with it.”

Ducharme teamed up with Christopher James, 26, who focuses on preparing meals and working with suppliers, while she tackles the administrative side of clients, invoicing and financing. Last fall, they launched Macro Foods Inc.

“It all came together pretty quick. We registered the business Nov. 14 of last year, and our first delivery was Dec. 20.”

The name Macro Foods refers to the macronutrients that make up a healthy diet. Each pre-made meal is packed with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fats and doesn’t contain additives, fillers, preservatives or MSG. The meals can be customized for those with different weight goals, nutritional requirements or dietary restrictions, such as vegans or vegetarians.

Customers order the meals through Macro Foods website and there are delivered direct two days a week to anywhere in Windsor and Essex County. While orders can be customized, most meals are a “surprise” and Ducharme said customers enjoy the variety.

“We have a lot of elderly people, students and business people who are too busy and just want to eat healthier.”

The business has been growing steadily, mainly based on word-of-mouth, and the response has been “very, very positive,” said Ducharme. “People are telling their friends and everyone is getting on board. The word is spreading pretty quickly. It’s exciting.”

“We already have people that contact us all the way from Toronto that want us to send meals out,” she added.

Macro Foods recently secured $36,000 in financing from Futurpreneur, a national non-profit organization providing business loans, mentorship and support to entrepreneurs aged 18-39. The program is administered locally through the Small Business Centre.

The funding is being used to expand Macro Foods from its commercial kitchen space in the former Rockefeller Lounge in downtown Windsor, to a storefront property at 1389 Wyandotte St. East, at the corner of Moy Avenue in Wyandotte Town Centre.

“We’re going to have a small storefront; possibly a couple tables, but more so it will be fridges of ready-stocked meals, desserts and healthy smoothies. And people can get [meals] all day instead of us being limited to a delivery and pick up [time],” explained Ducharme. The new location is undergoing renovations and will be opened to the public by the end of the summer.

“We’ve also developed a new website that we’re about to launch, which will make the ordering process for the customers a little easier, and make us more prepared,” she added.

As with any new business, Macro Foods experienced some startup hurdles. “The first challenge was the financing, so thanks to Futurpreneur for helping us out with that,” said Ducharme, adding other challenges included business logistics such as securing proper suppliers, getting the costing down and finding out how to split the deliveries to make sure they’re out on time.

Once the new location is up-and-running, Ducharme anticipates adding employees to its current staff of 10, introducing new menu items and expanding delivery service as far as London.

Sara Ducharme is WindsorEssex Small Business Centre client that received consultation and research services to launch her business. You too can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact us for more information.