Dries Orchards, Inc.

Dries Orchards is a retail and wholesale orchard offering fresh produce and a variety of jams, teas, honey, cider, baked goods, and candies at stores, farmers markets, and produce stands in a tricounty area. Early in 2015, managers Heather Dries-Stahl and John Bzdil requested assistance from the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in hopes of growing and diversifying their markets.

During a series of consulting engagements with the SBDC, they received help with financial analysis and market growth strategy and received referrals to specialty services and partners to help them expand. Among these resources was the Engineering Development Services at the Bucknell SBDC, which assisted the company with its plan to develop a shelf-stable un-refrigerated apple cider. SBDC staff and faculty from the Bucknell Chemical Engineering department observed their process and collected samples for a research project. Their technical report summary provided Dries with information that helped them decide to invest in new, upgraded production equipment.

Additionally, the SBDC’s engineering students and faculty partners continue to aid Dries in process improvements and automation and are working with them in the development of a new flavored cider product. The SBDC also connected Dries with www.biomasstrader.org, a statewide marketplace administered by the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP), another specialized service of the Pennsylvania SBDC. Through this forum, Dries Orchards is seeking a buyer for byproducts from their cider press, hoping to turn their “trash” into someone else’s treasure.

Finally, the SBDC referred them to the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at SEDA-COG, which further helped them diversify their market. Dries was assisted in registering with the System for Award Management, which is necessary to conduct business with the federal government. PTAC staff guided Dries in contacting the purchasing offices of a nearby federal correctional complex and U. S. penitentiary, resulting in multiple contracts from two new customers.