The journey of Patriot Pickle is a coincidental one. Bill McEntee, the company’s President, began his career in the restaurant industry, and saw an opportunity to expand into pickles. “I should note that we had never made pickles before,” he begins. “We saw a gap in the supply chain for restaurants needing the condiment, so we started to make our own.” This initiative received promising responses from customers and distributors, and continued to evolve with the help of Bill’s industry intuition. “We then leased a small warehouse building to start making them. Our customer base grew rapidly. We did over a million dollars in sales the first year we were in business. We then bought a 28,000-square-foot building, and our customers have kept coming.”
Patriot Pickle then purchased an additional 54,000-square-foot building next door to keep up with the increase in demand. Today, he is proud to share that Patriot Pickle is the largest producer of refrigerated pickles on the east coast. “Our customer base is a combination of food service distributors and retail. Through the food service channel, our products are then delivered to restaurants and diners. Then, Patriot Pickle provides private label retail products distributed throughout the country,” he explains.
Expanding on the topic of the company’s product range, Bill is happy to announce the launch of two new products, including a tasty and convenient grab-and-go pouch, known as Crisp. “It’s one of the latest that customers can find at their closest convenience stores. There is no brine solution in it, and it is a healthy snack that you can eat at your leisure,” shares Bill. He goes on to explain that the product comes in four different flavors that range from the more savory, like sweet horse radish, the original dill, and a regular or spicy hot, to the bread and butter, which hosts a sweeter taste.
“The second item is called Pickleade, which is the brine solution that we use to cure pickles. We offer that anywhere from a three-ounce bottle to a 55-gallon-drum. It is a hydration drink for athletes, packed with electrolytes that restore salt balance. On the larger packs, it’s used in some distilleries as a flavoring component for different mixtures that are distilled and cured in alcohol. It can also be used as a marinade for chicken and meat proteins,” shares Bill.
When asked about the company’s secrets to creating a fun and nutritious ingredient, Bill iterates that communication has been the top priority to ensure a smooth operation process. This, combined with his industry know-how, has powered the business forward. “From my experience working in the restaurant industry, we know what restaurant operators are looking for. We looked very closely at ways to solve on-time delivery issues, communication disruptions, and customer needs,” he says.
This approach of advocating for communication is then reflected across the company’s supply chain network. “We deal directly with cucumber growers, so we need to keep in touch with that process; that is critical. Then, whether its packaging, costs, vegetables, buckets or our salt and vinegar suppliers, each vendor serves a crucial role to our business, and we value that.”
He then continues to discuss one additional contributor to the company’s success; one of which Bill is particularly proud. “My father used to remind us to treat people the way we want to be treated, and we carry that across our business. We actively value keeping everyone involved and motivated, and I believe that the best way to do that is by sharing the growth and celebrating every milestone.”
He shares that this ethos led Patriot Pickle to introduce a rewards scheme, which not only takes the form of monetary incentives, but prioritizes its team spending time together. “We will pick an employee each week, and tell them to take their family out to dinner, send us the receipt, and we will gladly reimburse them. From my perspective, this job means that we take our people away from their families, so as a little reward back, we want to reinvest that time for them,” he expresses.
With these pillars in place to help keep the company robust against market volatility, we go on to discuss some of the challenges that Bill and his team face, following the impact of the pandemic. “None of us has been immune to the supply chain disruptions, and from my perspective, recruitment seems to be the biggest challenge at the moment. Both are affecting businesses in so many ways. To mitigate these obstacles, we are doing our best to ensure we are well-stocked. In terms of our supply chain issues, we don’t rely on one source of supply; in some instances, we triple source, which I think has worked well for our entire network.”
Tying in with the strategies in place to maintain the business’s success, Bill dives deeper into the ways Patriot Pickle is refining its company culture. He takes a moment to share that the business is also passionate about supporting work dedicated to helping those diagnosed with ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. “We promote and we give back to ALS annually. This company believes in contributing to something meaningful, and the fight against ALS is a cause we hold very dear.”
Now, Bill looks towards the remainder of 2022 with a clear plan that he believes will only push the company’s growth further. “We are on a strong trajectory, and there are also some new projects in development for the last quarter that will lead into 2023. The plan is to maintain our growth, which has been very rapid over the last few years. We are also concentrating on customer support, employees and our vendor relationships, which will give us an even greater advantage.”
When Bill considers the future of the business five years from now, he envisions the company remaining true to its core values. This, he believes, will ensure it remains dedicated to the people and causes that lie at the heart of Patriot Pickle’s success. “We never want to lose sight of being the highest quality producer out there. However, the quality and culture of our business is really the most important aspect that we need to maintain. I know that growth will be a result of this, and that can only continue to strengthen as we progress.”