Opportunity Knocks, Peoria County Farm Entrepreneur Answers


Meat -280x 420Peoria County Farm Bureau member, cattleman, meat processor and entrepreneur Dave Alwan’s best product? Himself.

Alwan’s rapid-fire delivery dovetails with his whirlwind ascension from young man who joined his family’s meat processing business to cattleman/meat company founder promoting his own products on a national reality show.  “You get out of life what you work for,” Alwan noted.

Recently, he discussed his experience on “Shark Tank," the network reality show where aspiring entrepreneurs make business pitches to a panel of potential investors. “I knew we needed exposure and we got exposure. It’s an amazing ride,” Alwan said of the “Shark Tank” aftermath on his company, Echo Valley Meats.

His 2012 long shot appearance on “Shark Tank” -- 54,000 people auditioned, but only 100 appeared on the show -- didn’t result in an investment offer. But Alwan has captured the positives.

All of the “Shark Tank” investors order products and gift baskets from Echo Valley; he sold products on the QVC network at the rate of $5,000 per minute; and the national exposure resulted in 87,000 views of his company website and 41,000 orders.

Although Alwan knew only 14 days in advance when he would appear on the show, he prepared for the potential aftermath and “built a new website in 14 days,” he explained. Since then, he constructed a third website to handle the electronic commerce at echovalleymeats.com.

Alwan followed his business intuition and added products and services. For example, he started a mail order business and hand delivered gift boxes to local corporate offices, which led to a huge gift box order from a major corporation. That corporation then asked Alwan to cater meals for its corporate jets. “That’s how I got into catering. I did 67 weddings in one year,” Alwan explained.

From his start raising and processing his own cattle and marketing those value-added products, Alwan continues to raise cattle and operate his retail and wholesale businesses, as well as catering, marketing corporate gifts and fundraising products, and operating a mail order business.

Alwan recommended farmers who consider expanding to use caution. “Make sure you have your costs in line and your structure in line before you attempt to grow your business,” he said. “And never go too far into debt.”

Story content provided by KAY SHIPMAN, FarmWeek

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