Our latest case study. Mike from the wonderful Loggerheads Gourmet Mushrooms talks us through how he’s grown his busniess and how he’s worked with Hortculture Wales.
Wrexham Glyndŵr University Welsh Government Business Wales Growing the Future – Tyfu’r Dyfodol Welsh Country Magazine Welsh Food & Drink
Posted by Horticulture Wales on Thursday, April 9, 2020
I’m Mike the founder of loggerheads gourmet mushrooms.
Currently I run the business on my own. There are a few other smaller businesses that support me, but it’s pretty much me on my own at the moment. I got into the whole mushroom growing business initially I had an estate agency for many years. A very stressful job and I just got to a point where I was retiring form that and I thought ‘I want to do something that involves, hopefully as much as possible, recycling. That was kind of my main focus was the whole recycling. I came across a way of growing mushrooms on coffee grounds which really grabbed my interest and I did stacks of research and courses online and it’s grown from there.
The fact that I wanted to recycle all the time that whole from the off-set, a lot of what we do is recycle so a lot of materials that I’ve used in the unit is recycled. You know, its old packing cases, a lot of the Correx boarding is from old boards that printers no longer use, so you might see a billboard on the high street, and some of this is off that. A lot of it was about that then the whole growing mushrooms got a bit, not an obsession but so interesting, quite anorak-y in the first few months, but, it just really, its taken over my life really! And, the feedback that I’ve had off the public, who are so impressed with what we grow and how we grow it and the fact that, you know, its eco-friendly. But, I think that’s given me a real drive, to grow it even more, the fact that people generally say how fantastic it is!
Currently I am growing a variety of Oyster Mushrooms, so we do Golden Oyster, Grey Oyster, King Oysters, they’re really popular! I also grow and sell Shiitake Mushrooms, Lions Main Mushrooms, and I’m looking at other varieties that I can grow in the environments that I’ve got.
Horticulture Wales contacted me, probably just less that a year ago. I had contact and was invited to come along to one of the events, which, in all honesty, it was really useful for me, got to meet other businesses, and got some good support from some of the team. And got directed to areas. They’ve given me a lot of help really, and that’s genuine. I think out of all the groups out there, that support new start business, I think Horticulture Wales have been really really helpful.
I think one of my big obstacles in the early stages was the compliance side of things. So obviously we’re dealing with food stuff. One of the issues that we came across was that some of the produce that we sell, for example, the Pâté, has to be tested. Without the introduction from Izzy, I wouldn’t have known or been able to get that. Or, it would have just been, not cost effective to do it. But that’s been probably, the biggest help, the introduction to them.
Jane at Horticulture Wales introduced me to, there’s some potential outlets for me in the Wrexham area, which they’ve invited me there to have a stall, selling which I’ll potentially be doing in the near future. It’s just having enough stock to be able to meet the demand.
I honestly believe that, what you guys are doing at Horticulture Wales, is benefit to new start and small business as against some of the other organisations that are out there, who, clearly have budgets, but maybe the moneys not spent in the right way? That’s just my opinion as a small business person. You know, you can send me on courses all day long, but it’s not going to grow mushrooms for me! And, you know, it’s not going to get me the next lot of equipment I need!
I’ve been in business for many years, ok I’ve never been a grower, but, you know, I know the fundamentals of growing a business. For me, there’s certain areas that I, I’m really good at and there’s other areas Im weaker. I think, if the likes of Horticulture Wales could give me the support, not necessarily financial, but financial people, who know how to crunch the numbers, and know how to look at the profit and loss. I’ve got a good finger on how profitable the business can be and is, but I think supply on, from that area. I think support on premisses! You know there’s empty units all over Wales that if I was able to operate out of. Because, this business is small but its very easily scaled up! You know I can currently grow, in there region of 50kilos of Shiitake Mushrooms a week, now the only thing that’s stopping me from growing more, is the space and the equipment.
In the future I’d like to see the business boom! I’m very confident that there’s high demand there, because I’ve done my market research. I personally would like to concentrate on the geeing, so to have a big growing facility, that would feed out to business partners, who would be selling on behalf of Loggerheads Gourmet Mushrooms.
In Wales, in my opinion there’s this huge opportunity, for us to scale up the mushroom growing. If you look, generally the majority of mushrooms are imported, typically from Holland. Why aren’t we doing our thing in Wales?
There enough, you know, there’s myself, there are other growers, and I think if we were to come together, as a group there’s a massive potential the finest mushrooms available. You know that’s what we’re doing here, we’re not mass producing mushroom that are tasteless, we potentially could mass produce mushrooms that the public actually want. It’s just how we get that investment.
You know Horticulture Wales may be able to help us, to kind of, you know, put a spotlight on us as to what we’re doing, and look at the real potential. Because I do honestly believe there’s a massive potential there.