On today’s show, we chat with small business icon Jeff Mease who took the work ethic he learned from an early age and built a pizza shop that sprouted a restaurant which naturally needed a brewery.
Once all of that was humming, he created a community commissary where other small food businesses could start just like he did. After over 30 years of growth, Jeff now steers a ten million dollar organization and the new ideas just keep flowing.
Here’s an overview:
What early stories from Jeff’s life set him up to succeed as a business owner?
Jeff was the youngest of five kids. He worked at his dad’s grocery store from an early age. He did everything from sorting recycled pop bottles and bagging groceries to running the deli. Besides a general work ethic, one of the largest lessons was how to keep things clean.
Eventually, in the early 1980’s, he left his home in Ohio and headed to college at Indiana University. He majored in business and worked at the local Domino’s Pizza. What he really learned in those first years was that he didn’t need a business degree to start a great business. When the opportunity presented itself, he decided to Make a business plan and start his own pizza shop. Jeff learned at that moment that he loves starting things.
What happened when Jeff tried to expand outside of the core Bloomington businesses?
Jeff has always been building on the foundations he builds. When he tried to jump from the core business and start something on his own in South Florida it just didn’t take. He learned he needed his team and his team need him. He came back and refocused on the Bloomington businesses
How does Jeff feel about franchising?
Jeff found the Domino’s franchise to be a really clear and simple system for running a business. On top of that, his businesses are all in heavily franchised industries. But Jeff feels like local accountability is really important for business and heavy concentrations of power are problematic for democratic ideals. For both of those reasons, he’s committed to avoiding franchises. His plan is to grow organically and locally.
What’s special about the One World business?
Jeff’s goal is to add interesting foods and interesting experiences. His businesses are eclectic and different while still being responsive to the customers palette and food needs.
How did the One World Commissary come into being?
Jeff’s restaurant and pizza shops have always needed a central place to create the core food products. Long ago he created a commissary where prepped food and pizza dough were made. At some point, he started sharing the prep space with other businesses. More and more businesses wanted to rent space and it got to the point where they were out growing what they had. At the same time, they lost their lease in the current building. The timing was perfect. They went out and found a 36,000 square foot space which now houses the commissary for Jeff’s businesses and for more than 30 other businesses as well.
As the owner of a large business with more than 200 employees, what advice do you have for buddine entrepreneurs?
First off, you haved to go out and really understand the business you want to be in. Understand the scalability and how that works, ask people who already own businesses in that industry.
Don’t be overprotective of your ideas. You have to share ideas to find out if they’re good or not.
[bctt tweet=” “the idea that the idea is the valuable thing, it’s not. It’s actually putting it into practice and everything it takes to do that.”” username=”@shineinsure”]
Don’t get addicted to Education. Kick the school and go work for people who are already doing it.
What does One World look like in 5 years?
Jeff’s planning to grow in Bloomington. More pizza, growing the catering, & starting a couple of different restaurants are all in the 5 year plan.
A special thanks to Jeff Mease for sharing the story of Pizza X, Lennies, Bloomington Brewing Company, & One World Commissary with us.
You can find them here:
A few of the businesses in the One World Commissary:
- Bloomington Bagel Company
- Everyday Adventure Treats (formerly Ugo Bar)
- The Big Cheese
- Lucky Guy Bakery
Music by Mark Vinten
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