Sister’s Home Style Entrées is the pride and joy of owner Deb Davis. The company makes frozen meals at its headquarters in downtown Humboldt, Iowa. Deb initially approached the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in April 2011 to get help with the business she had recently started.
SBDC Regional Director Lisa Shimkat helped Deb to put accounting procedures into place and write a business plan; she also helped Deb obtain financing to purchase a packaging machine and additional freezers to store the frozen entrées. Lisa then helped Deb do cash flow analyses and market research, and complete loan paperwork for a local bank.
Shortly after their first meeting, Lisa and Deb realized that Sister’s Home Style Entrées was growing too quickly. Within a few months, the demand for Deb’s meals had outgrown the capacity of the upright freezers Deb had first purchased, and the orders were still increasing. The company needed additional storage and needed to expand its facility.
Deb and her husband started working on remodeling the facility’s back room to accommodate the increase in supplies and packaging. Once the back room was completed, they were able to work with the county inspector to expand the production and preparation areas according to code and brace for the increase in orders.
Sister’s Home Style Entrées sells their frozen meals directly to the end consumer. Deb started out focusing on family meal packages, assuming that her meals-for-one would be only about ten percent of the business. Within twelve months of opening, the meals-for-one demand was over 95 percent of the company’s sales. The company ships meals all over Iowa and is a great way to custom order monthly single meals for very busy people as well as the aging population. Many of Deb’s clients are children of elderly parents; orders come in from all over the United States for customers in Iowa.
Since start-up, Sister’s Home Style Entrées has grown from two full-time employees to twenty part-time employees and two full-time employees. From August 2012 to August 2013 the company increased production from creating over 3,700 meals per month to creating over 25,000 meals per month.
Deb says, “Because of Lisa and the work she’s done on my behalf, my business has really grown and flourished. I have been able to come to her with so many questions and concerns and she has helped me through every one of them. She was willing to go the extra mile and find the answers for me. Lisa and the Small Business Development Center have been invaluable tools. Even now, as my business flourishes, I find that the help I receive from Lisa is even more important. If I had not had this resource to turn to, it would have stalled my efforts as I struggled to find the answers myself. We love knowing that this resource is available to us and they truly care about our success.”
In August 2013, Deb once again went back to the SBDC for advice on a possible second expansion to accommodate her company’s increased production needs. The SBDC brought in the expertise of Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Services (CIRAS) to look at how to make the company’s proposed expansion successful and cost effective for the client. Work on this second expansion is progressing; a second building has been purchased. The company’s office and production area are now in two separate buildings. Deb and her husband have already bought another facility that they may turn into a food processing area for sales into other states. By 2016, the company had more than doubled their sales.
In October 2014, America’s SBDC Iowa announced that Deb Davis had been chosen as their 2015 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner. Deb was presented with her award at a ceremony held in the State Capitol on March 5, 2015. Deb was honored once more in 2015 when she was chosen as the 2015 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Deb was presented with her SBA award on April 23, 2015 at Sister’s Home Style Entrées in Humboldt.
If you are interested in finding out more about Deb’s delicious, nutritious home style frozen meals, check out Sister’s Home Style Entrées at http://www.sistersentrees.com or the company’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Sisters-Home-Style-Entrees-182745545085650.