It was the summer of 2013 that we first sat down with @sandikronick @easterncarolinaorganics to talk about their vision for an ECO Hub on Pettigrew St. in Durham. It didn’t take us long to make plans to join them. Cold storage is hard to come by, especially in Durham and how cool (no pun intended) to be co-located with another food hub like us!
While ECO owns the building and uses it for their organic produce distribution activities, they rent space to like-minded businesses. We currently lease cold storage, warehouse and office space inside the ECO-Hub and share the use of key infrastructure like regulation height loading docks, pallet jacks, a conference room and kitchen.
As food hubs, specializing in perishable local products, ECO and Firsthand Foods do a lot of the same things. We both focus a lot of our time and energy on aggregating product from farmers in North Carolina. We work upstream with our producers to develop products and fine-tune quality to meet our customers needs and expectations. We have teams that handle operations and logistics as well as sales and marketing. So, there’s lots to talk about in the kitchen over lunch!
The only real difference is the products we’re selling and the unique considerations that are inherent to fruits and vegetables vs. meat. Also, ECO also sells primarily to retail grocery stores whereas we sell more to restaurants. But in an exciting new dimension to our relationship, we are starting to work together to ship products outside the Triangle. It makes a lot of sense when we are both headed in the same direction.