Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Former trade adviser plans dream business in Michigan

Entrepreneurship certainly has its risks, but the excitement of planning a new venture can be undeniably satisfying in itself. Business planning that leads to profit is the main goal, but sometimes entrepreneurs also find themselves in a position to enjoy the fruits of a business dream come true. In any case, it is important to cover your legal bases.

Consider the story of a Michigan pig farmer. (Maybe that last sentence strikes you as odd given the context here, but think again.)

The founder of Elm International, a consulting firm for auto suppliers, moved out of that world and into the pig-farming business several years ago. He was also an international trade advisor in former Gov. James Blanchard's administration, but in an interview with Bridge Magazine, the 62-year-old said food has been his greatest passion.

He used to be a partner in a company that sold food items to gourmet restaurants, but the company fell on hard times during the recession. Now times are better, and there is a market for blond Mangalitsa pigs, which are known for their delectable, creamy flavor.

In the 1970s, the pigs almost became extinct, but they have since rebounded.

Still, importing the pigs to Michigan has involved some difficulties, both in terms of government regulation and keeping prices down.

Finally, the former trade advisor was able to persuade the U.S. Department of Agriculture and members of Congress to allow importation of the pigs from Hungary. Now the business, Pure Mangalitsa, supplies pigs to farmers and meat to restaurants, which sell the product in various dishes for not-too-low prices.

In this case, the founder of Pure Mangalitsa says he didn't get into the pig business to make money. Investments, he says, have treated him well. Still, it is undoubtedly satisfying when a dream venture comes true.

Source: Bridge, "How a Michigan entrepreneur overcame pork politics," Rick Haglund, Aug. 13, 2013

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