Mark Pawliw lived the food and restaurant lifestyle through his 25 plus years of experience in the industry, but he realized that something was missing - a connection to the producers, growers and chefs that brought the food to your plates, the drink to your glasses, and the art of cooking that ties it all together.
Having to take some action to remedy this, Mark formed Farm to Fork 101 in 2015. It would become a tool, a resource, and an entrepreneurial adventure! Through his business he would explore bridging the gap through “a sustainable experience that reconnects the farmer with the consumer in a delicious way”.
Mark started meeting with Onondaga SBDC Business Advisor Frank Cetera in October of 2017. He was looking for a path forward in growing the scale, diversity, and recognition of Farm to Fork 101. Together, client and advisor held many strategic planning discussions to create an overall vision and action options. Some of these were postponed or altered due to some sizeable opportunities that came to Mark that helped grow the awareness of the local sustainable food system as well as his business. These opportunities included being hired to manage the Wegman’s Experience stage during the Great New York State Fair in 2018 and 2019.
Throughout their time working together, Business Advisor Frank Cetera continued strategic coaching with Mark. They worked on expanding into operational analysis regarding cash flow and profit margins, differentiation marketing strategies, ideas for informational subscription services to extend product offerings, and other general problem solving. Mark says, "Frank has helped me articulate my vision, weed out the bad or underdeveloped ideas and understand the importance of being proactive with my financials. All in all, he has been a great coach and look forward to continuing with his advice as my business expands and grows."
Now, in 2020, Mark can point to his success story as a long line of sold out events, contracts for services, and name recognition. One of Mark’s latest undertakings was hosting the experience stage cooking demos at the Northeast Organic Farming Association New York’s Winter Conference at the OnCenter in January.
And, with continued coaching and planning with his Advisor, Mark plans to take Farm to Fork 101 even further in the new decade. He plans on providing increased access to information about farmers and their produce to consumers, while continuing the educational dinners and cooking classes that have been such a hit!
Mark states, "Farm to Fork 101 has always been about building and maintaining relationships within the community. In the future, we plan on continuing those connections through hands on education and helping with other organizations who share the same values. In the end, we would like to see a strong, well connected food community here in Syracuse."
You can run into Mark Pawliw out and about at the Regional Market where he can be invariably found sourcing produce for a dinner event, building the relationships that are the foundation of his business.
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on April 10, 2020
Frank Cetera is an Advanced Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College, specializing in employee-ownership. Contact him at email@example.com
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