The buzz is real for Sequim Bee Farm.
It’s just that the shock hasn’t worn off yet for its owners, says Meg DePew. She and her husband Buddy won $20,000 from Kitsap Bank’s fifth annual edg3 FUND small business competition on Nov. 15.
“I’m still not believing it happened,” Meg DePew said.
In five-minute presentations, Meg and four other business finalists presented in front of more than 250 people in the Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton where an independent panel of judges based their decision on how each business helps its community economically, socially, and environmentally. Meg described it as similar to watching the TV show “Shark Tank.”
In the finals, Sequim Bee Farm faced Chimacum’s Kodama Farm & Food Forest, Bremerton’s Wood Originals, Port Orchard’s Compost Manufacturing Alliance and Renton’s HandiMaps.
“Sequim Bee Farm is doing very important work addressing the preservation of the honey bee,” said Tony George, Kitsap Bank’s president and chief operating officer.
“We expect great things from them and are pleased to provide them the ‘edg3’ they need to take their business to the next level.”
The DePews made the semi-finals following a two-week online voting period.
Meg said they were the final business to present on stage and when the announcement came they won, she sat in shock.
On stage, Buddy thanked everyone for their support.
“We appreciate everyone’s support,” Meg said. “A big part of this was having the community vote in the beginning. We knew we had so much support on the Olympic Peninsula.”
The DePews have big plans for the contest winnings to expand operations and increase their efficiency.
“We will look at building an onsite commercial kitchen, automating our processing line and upgrading our website a little bit,” Meg said.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do things like talking to a distributor about expanding our market.”
Leading up to the contest, Buddy said automating his process of extracting honey will save him a lot of hours and allow him to spend more time with bees, including hives at nine Sequim area lavender farms.
Meg said winning saves them about four or five years in financing new equipment.
“We plan to be completely ready to go by next harvest,” she said of the planned additions.
This was the second time the couple applied and became finalists in the edg3 FUND competition; the first in 2016.
They didn’t apply in 2017 because they assumed they’d be recovering from vandalism that killed 20 of their home’s bee hives. But business continued to boom, and they remain staples at both Sequim and Port Angeles Farmers Markets and holiday bazaars this season.
They nurtured more than 80 hives and sell their honey in stores across three counties and via online orders worldwide.
Meg said she hopes other finalists attempt again next year. A professional commercial is made for each finalist, too. Semi-finalist Dragonfly Cinema of Port Orchard also won the Community edg3 Award and a $5,000 cash prize after judges selected them for embodying community spirit.
For more information, and/or to make an order with Sequim Bee Farm, call 360-460-2341 or visit www.sequimbeefarm.com.
Kitsap Bank, www.kitsapbank.com, operates 21 locations throughout Western Washington.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.