At 6:30 in the morning, when most of us are asleep or enjoying our first cup of coffee, Drew D’Angelo arrives at Mazzye’s Meats to begin preparing the store.
He sanitizes the store, fills the cases and prepares the meat for the day. While there’s much work to be done, his favorite part of the day is just 90 minutes away when he’ll begin interacting with the customers. That’s when his passion for meat and food preparation becomes apparent. Not only does he enjoy talking with his customers about specific meats and various cuts of meat, he loves to help them understand the best way to prepare them.
That’s because prior to this, and for over 18 years, Drew was the executive chef for Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. And while he was quite content with his position at Le Moyne, like most entrepreneurs, he aspired for more. He also thought if he could do something that he loved and make money doing it, the reward would be worth the risk of leaving the comfort of an environment where he spent much of his professional life. American writer Elbert Hubbard once said, “The greatest mistake in life you can ever make is to continually fear you will ever make one.”
With an eye toward retirement, Frank and Dave Mazzye floated the idea of selling their business to Drew during a normal visit to the market two years ago. Mazzye’s Meats had been a family owned business located on Oswego Road in Liverpool that was established in 1979 specializing in top quality meats. The seed of opportunity for major changes in Drew’s professional and personal life was planted. And while change may always be scary, what becomes scarier is allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving and progressing. With the full support of his wife Sue, Drew decided to make the leap. He has not looked back and couldn’t be happier.
Drew was born in Boston, MA and acquired his culinary skills as an undergraduate student at Johnson & Wells University in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to working for Le Moyne College, he honed his experience in the food service industry working at restaurants, hotels and country clubs. When I asked Drew what prompted him to consider making a change in his professional life, he told me that when the pandemic struck, the demand for meal preparation in the college cafeterias plummeted since most students were not on campus. As a result, the company he worked for laid off many of his employees. Drew knew if he was ever going to make a change and control his own destiny, he needed to make that change now. He considered purchasing a diner but determined that to be risky. He knew that he missed being actively engaged in food preparation. When the proposal of owning a meat market was presented to him, the thought of becoming the owner never dawned on him. Following several months of back and forth negotiations, and with the assistance of Certified Business Advisor Mark Pitonzo of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College, Drew was able to finalize the transaction and is now the owner of Mazzye’s Meats. And while you won’t find his name on the sign out front, he has no intention of changing it as the Mazzye’s Meats brand name has been synonymous with quality products and exceptional customer service for the greater Liverpool area.
American television writer Andy Rooney once said “Don't take a butcher's advice on how to cook meat. If he knew, he'd be a chef.” In this case, Drew is not only a butcher but a chef with extensive knowledge and experience that he’s very happy to share with his customers.
Drew pointed out some of the most important assistance he received from his SBDC advisor was Mark’s ability to help him create a business infrastructure that would help him navigate the acquisition and transactions. “It helped that I spoke with the SBDC first. I realized the magnitude of the decisions I was about to make. They along with my accountant George Powers and my attorney Rand Allgaier, made sure I understood the business financially. Once the business became mine, the costs to run it became real. They helped me build the infrastructure for the business that I needed.” Drew went on to say, "Acquiring this business was an education process for me as well."
While the meat business is a $103 billion industry, after devoting all his physical and emotional energy to acquiring Mazzye’s, Drew was fearful of the effects the pandemic could have on the industry and his business. Would he be able to survive? Well, Mazzye’s is not just surviving – it’s thriving under Drew! He currently employs 10 people and has maintained a family atmosphere that he hopes will perpetuate the retention of existing customers and create new relationships. While they are primarily a market that specializes in a wide array of the finest quality meats for their customers, they offer convenience store items as well as basic grocery needs. Additionally, they offer a version of Utica Greens called “Greens D’Angelo” and are famous for their chicken, turkey and meat pot pies. Drew wants to maintain a Central New York product line and hopes to expand the kitchen area to allow him to offer catering services in the future.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Drew feels strongly that this is work worth doing because of the happiness it provides him and his family. Drew routinely works 12+ hour days. But as I was leaving Mazzye’s, he told me that one of the best things that has occurred as a result of his acquisition is that, “I now sleep very well at night. I couldn’t have done this without the help of you and the SBDC.”
American author Fran Lebowitz once said, “Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.” I have a very good idea where you can find a good cut of meat.
Visit Mazzey's Meat today!
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on May 31, 2021
Article by Mark Pitonzo, a NYS certified business advisor at the Small Business Development Center’s satellite office located at Onondaga Community College @Liverpool. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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