URC Profile

Joe McClure

Title: Founder
Company:
 McClure’s Pickles
Year started: 2006
Industry: Food Products
Activity: Pickled food manufacturer
Annual Revenue: $2 million
Employees: 25
Degree: B.S., Biology, 2005, Oakland University; Ph.D., Physiology, 2011, Wayne State University
Company website: mcclurespickles.com

“A lot of people probably have a family pickle recipe but wouldn’t think to make a business out of it. An entrepreneur will just go for it and not worry if it fails.”

mcclureEvery summer growing up in Detroit, Joe McClure would go with his grandfather, father and brother to the Eastern Market and pick up fresh Michigan produce—cucumbers, garlic and dill”that they would take home to make their grandmother’s pickle recipe. It was a family tradition that was firmly planted in Joe’s heart and soul, so much so that he and his brother, Bob McClure, decided in 2006 to try and make a business out of it.

With a $50,000 loan from their parents, Joe and Bob purchased equipment, glass, labels, produce and spices and founded McClure’s Pickles Inc. The brothers rented two small facilities, with Joe setting up production in Ann Arbor, MI, and Bob starting production in Brooklyn, NY. They made a small batch that first summer and gave them out to family, friends and restaurant contacts, and a friend helped design a website. Knowing the people behind the product and resonated with customers. They now have more than 100 distribution points and more than 1,000 retailers nationwide that carry their products.

“I think everything you learn along your way teaches you an understanding of where you want to go.”

Joe started the company while he was working on his doctoral degree at Wayne State University. At the time, pickles were just his hobby. He was doing cardiovascular control research, first assisting with surgeries and then doing his own. He planned to complete his Ph.D., do postdoctoral work, then move into teaching, but Joe found his heart was more into the pickle business than research.

Although Joe hadn’t taken any business courses, his doctorate gave him the research tools he needed to examine data, analyze it and solve problems at a microbiological level, all of which applied to testing pickles. Joe and his brother are working to expand their pickle product offerings under the McClure’s Pickles brand. They’re also planning on diversifying and creating a new brand of domestic American-made vinegars that use locally produced beer and cider.

Photo credit: Dave Lewinski