Author Archive for Michele Wong

Let’s Meet Anna Kay

Lizzie Mae Birdseed
All the great philosophers will say that one should never sweat the small stuff. They obviously don’t know much about the logistics of transporting Lizzie Mae seed from our farm to your store to your customers’ backyard feeders.

No detail is too small for us to sweat! It’s like sweat is our middle name. (That’s kinda gross.) We just know that sweating the details is what great customer service is all about.

We used to assign the “small stuff sweating” to a couple of the guys in the barn. But they did too good a job around mid-August if you know what I mean. Now Anna Kaye stays cool and calm while taking care of every detail. Let’s meet Anna Kaye…

What are your job responsibilities for Lizzie Mae?

My work includes letting customers know what day their delivery will be. Running the Credit Cards. Helping enter the orders. Getting the paperwork ready for the drivers & getting the orders to the warehouse guys that do the loading. I also help package the seed cakes we make. (Editor’s Note: This is when my hand cramped up from writing all this down. She does a lot!)

How did you happen to end up working at Lizzie Mae?

Well I started out putting labels on bags here at Stony Hill, and then it got to where I entered orders for Lizzie Mae on Wednesdays. Then I went to the office full time & started to do a lot more things for the business-side of the business.

What’s the best part about your job?

I like to enter the orders. I like to see what the customers order and it starts the whole process. After the orders are entered, it leads to entering the weights on the load sheet and getting the invoices ready for the guys to pick up the orders. And then there’s getting the paperwork ready for the drivers…

What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you while working?

One time I brought in cookies for the gang and put them on my desk. But I got a phone call and it was a lady from a store in Fresno asking if we have some strange feed for yellow-bellied sapsuckers. So that meant I had to walk back into the deepest darkest parts of the warehouse to see if we had this product. But when I get to my desk, she’s hung up and the cookies were gone!

Umm… did she sound like a man trying to sound like a woman?

Now that you mention it, she did sound rather… I want to be nice here… largish

Do you work with any stores in Fresno?

No. Maybe that should have been a clue.

By chance, was Rob in the office that day?

Yes, and what made that day even more strange was when he didn’t order his typical second desert at lunch. Mystery solved!

Boring Operational Issues

Better pump up that sugar intake because our BOIs are extra boring this time:

  • We got Bird Baths. Yes, we just mentioned it but did you really read that whole section?
  • We now stock the PTF Bird Tweet
  • We now stock the Brome Legacy and Seed Catcher
  • We now stock C and S Suet Bluebird Nuggets, Hot Pepper Nuggets, Seed Treat, Peanut Treat, Berry Treat, Nutty Treat, Orange Treat, Hot Pepper Delight, Woodpecker Treat, Mealworm Delight, Pure Suet, Sweet Corn Log, Nut and Sweet Corn Log
  • We now stock a generic 20LB and 40LB Oil Sunflower in addition to the 50LB and 25LB Generic Oil Sunflower
  • We now stock a 10LB Bag of Cranberries and a 10LB Bag of Raisins (Warning: If Mahlon’s mom makes her raisin mumble for Christmas we may have to out of stock the raisins. But it would be totally worth it. Her raisin mumble is da bomb.)

Rob is Thinking About…2016

Here’s the deal – trying to get anything from Rob for a December newsletter is rough. The whole month is devoted to cookies. I don’t want to say he’s overindulging but the theme for this year’s Christmas party was sweatpants.

Here’s a quick update on what we have cooking at Lizzie Mae for 2016.

  • The new warehouse is complete and stocked (With room for new products.)
  • Look for new products from the farm in February and September. (Deets in the Jan. newsletter.)
  • We extended our routes to the south. LM trucks now deliver from Maine to Florida (Not the same truck on the same day.)
  • We also added a route heading west to St. Louis. (Still not the same truck.)
  • You should have received a flyer from us last week featuring the Evans Lawn Ornaments line of Bird Baths. Thank God the boys in the warehouse are ginormous. Those baths are heavy.

But We, Like, Don’t Do That

Sometimes we get phone calls from your customers saying, “Gotta bag here of your, um, like, um, your bird seed and stuff. I can’t remember where I, like, bought it from. Like, you know, I was wondering if you would, like, ship me a bag direct.” (Editor’s Note: Not all the callers sound like my teenage son.)

But we, like, don’t do that.

Instead, we politely refer them back to your store where they:

  • Talked to a knowledgeable person about seed
  • Found the right type and amount of seed they needed
  • Got the down-low on the local bird population
  • Received an offer to have the seed carried to their car

Just so you know… we’ll never compete with our customers on the internet. Never will.And let’s not mention that one time Mahlon posted on AmishDate.com.

Rob is Thinking About…Safflower

Safflower is a thistle-like plant that can grow to a height of about three feet. Small individual flowers grow in clusters called flower heads. Each flower is able to produce one seed.

Our safflower is grown all over Utah and Northern Idaho. The crop is generally planted in late April and ready to harvest by mid-September. It is generally planted after a crop of wheat or summer fallow. Our safflower is known for its super bright white appearance which is due to the drier growing conditions. It costs more but makes for a pretty bag of birdseed and isn’t that what life is all about?

Interesting Note: Safflower is one of humanity’s oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Safflower flowers are used in cooking as a cheap substitute for saffron, and is referred to as “bastard saffron” which really made it hard for Safflower to find friends on the playground.

Let’s Meet MJ Shetler

MJ has been working for Mahlon since he’s been allowed to work. He describes his week as doing a little bit of everything. (Sound familiar to any store owners?)

On Monday and Tuesday he’s helping get the orders prepared for shipping. Wednesday through Friday is spent building bird houses and mixing and shaping and packaging seed cakes. The weekends are for hunting, fishing and catching up on Real Housewives episodes. (We made up one of those facts but we’re not saying which one.)

MJ loves working with family. Mahlon is his uncle but MJ says he’s really more like a brother. And MJ pointed out that deer season starts in two weeks. So yo, Bro, can a guy get a day off for opening day of deer season? Ed’s Note: That was us saying Yo and Bro. MJ and Mahlon are not big Yo-ers.

Rob is Thinking ‘Bout: New Crop

Tired of the same old crop? Rob’s here to tell you about new crop. (Ed’s Note: He said crop.)

New crop can either mean large swings in pricing or be a non-event as we shift into ingredients recently harvested. So far so good this year – the oil crop looks good. That is a good thing because it affects lots of the products we use in your mixes. (Yay!) But Nyjer is still problematic and we won’t see a new crop of Nyjer until the end of 1st quarter of next year.
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Rob is thinking about… Nyjer

Source countries – Ethiopia and India
Growing season – Sowing in Sept/Oct and harvested in Jan/Feb every year
Harvested how – By hand, using a sickle (Ed.’s Note: Just like the Grim Reaper!)
(Ed.’s Note to Self: Start making happier comparisons.)

Nyjer is cleaned, processed and heat treated at a plant in Ethiopia to USDA standards and then exported in either paper bags, totes or in bulk to these shores in ocean-going containers.

Some Nyjer is shipped to the USA and then heat treated to USDA standards in one of two facilities. The product is then packaged in either paper bags, totes

Summary of what happened this year. – crop was a lot smaller than expected due to unexpected rains close to the harvest period in December causing a damage to the crop.There was also good demand from oil crushers in Ethiopia causing further upward pressure on prices. Markets continue to be extremely tight due to illiquid supply (We’ll wait while you Google Illiquid too. We looked it up twice and still aren’t sure what it means.) as we approach the later part of the season. After a brief back off in cost from the peak, Nyjer pricing is back at a high for the year. We will all have to keep an eye on this one but if you have an expectation it will be coming down aggressively at any point over the next couple months we don’t see that happening.

PS: If you’re known as an Ethiopian Oil Crusher, you can make demands anytime you want. I’m going to start telling people that I’m a part-time Ethiopian Oil Crusher just to see where it gets me.

The Warehouse is Complete!

We just doubled our finished product space. (How many times do you get to say that in a lifetime?) Hey, who doesn’t want a little more closet space? Actually the main reason we added to the warehouse is so we can add to our list of products we can distribute to you. Seriously. Kevin promises his beanie baby collection will only be taking up two shelves at the most.

We also put up a really, really big Premium Oil Seed Bin to stay ahead of your orders this Winter. The best products need the best bins and this is what we got on the farm. Sweet.

So, to sum up: More warehouse space. Premium Oil Seed Bin. Enough Nyjer Seed to please an Ethiopian Oil Crusher. Just another day in the life of the dedicated souls at LM BS & DG as we work our way to becoming your one-stop shop for Bird Seed and related supplies

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Oil Seed Bin 640x480Cropped

Let’s Meet Folks from Lizzie Mae

Newsletter Blair ResSome of you already know Blair. He’s one of Lizzie Mae’s drivers and he answered a few questions so we could learn more about him

Who are ya and where do you deliver for Lizzie Mae?

Blair D. Bechtel. I deliver in northern New England/New York City and Long Island.

How many store owners do you meet during a standard day?

On a typical Tuesday I’ll meet between 7-10 stores in New England. A lot of our deliveries we drop and cover so we get in and out before traffic in the shopping centers.

What are some of your duties as part of being a driver for Lizzie Mae?

I deliver the birdseed safely and efficiently to every store, The big thing is communication and our customers are great at communicating. When the bad weather hits that is when they are often in the most need for their seed delivery. It is also when it can be the toughest time to get in to make the deliveries. I have always appreciated how thoughtful my customers are about my safety during the Winter season.

What do some stores do that other stores should do?

A lot of my store owners understand that my actions are not inconsequential. There are strict laws about service hours in the trucking industry. We are only allotted a certain amount of time in a given day to drive, refuel, and take a 10 hour break. In New England the store owners have been very cordial to make provisions with local law enforcement and property owners that allow me to take my breaks at their stores.

What is your most embarrassing or surprising Lizzie Mae moment?

One time I had to call my wife to learn how to use the sucker hose on a dirt devil vacuum cleaner. I needed to clean up a bag of broken millet that I had torn at a delivery when I rolled a skid into a stores’ storage room (Editor’s Note: If he’s calling for directions on how to use a vacuum cleaner, let’s just figure that Blair isn’t doing the “inside” chores around the house.)

Anything else?

Outside of delivering birdseed I am a captain at Town and Country Fire District in West Salem, Ohio. My family includes my wife, Erin, and my daughter, Violet, and we are expecting another addition in October. We have a small gentleman’s farm that includes miniature donkeys, goats, steers, and my daughter’s rabbit, Hoppy.

Lizzie Mae: A Corporate Giant

Lots of people want to know how a dynamic company like Lizzie Mae (Trading as LMBS&DG on the NY Stock Exchange!) could grow so quickly in today’s demanding business environment.

Okay, people are really only wondering how we’re still in business – but that’s only after they meet us! Wait. That doesn’t sound right either.

Lizzie Mae’s corporate charter clearly states that Kevin, Mahlon and Rob take turns being president of the company. Really. July is Mahlon’s month and he’s already abused his power by getting up 30 minutes after sunrise. Twice.

Lizzie Mae's Bird Seed Is Growing

Rob Is STILL Thinking About: #2 Chips

Rob was watching the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest:

 

and was thinking… I could do that. Actually he was thinking about #2 Chips. The birds love them which means your customers want them which means you need to know all about them. We talked a little about them last issue, but that just created more questions.

It’s like all these store owners think we are just here to help you learn more so you can build your business. (Full Disclosure: That is exactly what we live for – and hot dogs.)

The main goal at sunflower hulling facilities is to create an edible Bakery Kernel for human consumption. During the process of creating an edible bakery kernel different types of bi-products are created and used in the bird food industry. One such product is #2 Chips. This product is produced while in the process of de-hulling sunflower seeds for edible consumption. Our #2 Chips is a product where the shell and full meats of sunflowers are combined together. The ratio of this product is 70% kernel and 30% in shell, but can vary to be more kernel in the product and less in-shell. The reason for a variance is the hulling ratio, which you can experience when the kernel is extracted from the shell during the de-hulling process. #2Chips 356x200Electric eyes will force compressed air into the sunflowers that will take out the product with shell still on, which produces the #2 Sunflower Blend. Many people prefer this product when feeding the birds since you receive a product that is less messy by the feeder than straight sunflower seed. From the de-hulling process you experience many types of bi-products used in the wild bird feeding such as Coarse Chips, Select Chips, Medium Chips, and Fine Chips. More meats for less money is the big attraction to #2 Chips.