Our co-packer falls into bankruptcy and nearly takes us with them. The bank shuts them down and creditors attach the building and all the assets inside, including our equipment, cups and lids, ingredients and finished goods. We lose our means of production.
Over four days, Samuel and Gary restart the original Yogurt Works, working around the clock to ensure the next week’s shipments. We lose over $400,000 in one weekend just by getting the ingredients back from the bank and reopening Wilton. To meet orders, we run three shifts per day, seven days per week, and Samuel and Gary take turns working without sleep every other night. This continues for a year. Still we lose about $30,000 each week, but miraculously manage to stay afloat.
Essentially bankrupt, Samuel and Gary meet with a Vermont dairy firm that has agreed to invest in our company. When the long-awaited closing finally arrives, instead of the hundred-page agreement that had been negotiated, they are presented with a one-page deal that amounts to a takeover. Samuel and Gary walk out without signing, and on the five-hour drive home in a blizzard, they begin designing a new plant.
We begin earnestly raising money and moving ahead on building a new facility that could contain our small company and allow room for real growth. Gary successfully obtains a loan guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and several investors chip in. We find a landlord willing to take a risk and sign a lease for 21,000 sq. ft. in Londonderry, NH (our Wilton farm has only 1,500 sq. ft.).