Well, it’s been a very busy few weeks here in Bacon Land. Our parent company, Positive Approach Events has been in full swing planning tons of events that are taking place in the month of May…but in the dark, back office of Positive Approach the Bacon King sits and plans.
Seriously, this whole thing has been a lot of fun to plan for us. We are so grateful for the great fans that are supporting us on our Facebook page and are excited to be adding content to the website as things begin to come together. For our first real blog post we wanted to share a story about how Benton’s Country Hams became a giver of the bacon.
After we posted a poll, asking for your favorite brands of bacon, Benton’s came up several times. Tennessee’s very own I may add. Also mentioned was another company in Kentucky. Not going to name their name. I called this Kentucky bacon maker and before I asked them for anything she said, “you’re wasting my time and yours.” I laughed until I cried and hung up the phone. I did find it somewhat perplexing though. Never one to get discouraged, I called Benton’s next.
The line was busy for about 10 minutes, which automatically told me these guys were old school. I finally got through, told the nice lady on the phone that our fans were screaming for Benton’s Bacon and she said, “well you need to talk to Mr. Benton and he’s in a meeting right now.” Immediately I knew this was going to work. The owner, still involved and still making decision but most importantly, still accessible to his customers!! That’s what I’m talking about!
Much to my surprise Mr. Benton called me back and his first words to me were, “I’m so sorry I was unavailable when you called.” Huh??? Not, “you’re wasting my time!”???? Wow. His second sentence, “it’s about time upper East TN got on the Bacon Bandwagon!” YES! I knew I had Benton’s on board. Before he asked me about the bacon fest he asked me to tell him a little bit about Positive Approach Events and what we do, how we got started, etc. This is the way old school businessmen do business. Show interest, know the story and background of who you’re doing business with. This is how relationships are built. After I told him how we got our start 5 years ago and about the community events, fundraising, weddings, etc he said, “you’re the kind of team I want to be on.” It made me proud and it made me want to buy Benton’s Bacon…Allan Benton is a very wise businessman indeed, and I enjoyed learning from how well he listened.
So, then I listened to him. Found out that he grew up in Scott County, VA and his uncle opened the first branch of the First TN Bank in Bristol. He still has many family members and friends in the TriCities and considered this area, “just about the finest place to live on earth”. He loves Northeast TN and the stories he told about his time spent here proved that. Once the stories were told and the time for getting to know one another was done, we got down to business…of course in his mind this was business all along, just not the way people do it today.
I told him about the layout of the event and the Speedway Children’s Charities and the scope of their work in our SW Virginia and East TN communities. He was blown away and said to me, “Wow, how does Benton’s get on board to help raise money for the kids?” This was so rewarding to hear. I also told him about how we ended up being involved with BMS for the festival and the wonderful people at the speedway. When I mentioned Claudia Byrd’s name he said, “Was her husband ill a few years ago?” I confirmed that yes indeed Jeff had passed away not long ago from cancer. He remembered a ham that was ordered as a gift for Jeff over two years ago…let me repeat that so it sinks in…he remembered an order for a ham sent to Jeff Byrd two years ago. And had no idea who Jeff was because he doesn’t follow racing at all. In a time where business moves so fast and after a while our customers just seem to run together this guy remembered this?? I want to go to work for Allan Benton, period. He is like the Yoda or Obi Wan Kenobi of old school business.
So, how does Benton’s get involved? I just threw it out there…We need suppliers to donate bacon in exchange for branding and recognition at the festival. That’s when he said, “well the bad news is I have a commitment that weekend in Memphis and cannot be there.” My heart sunk because after 30 minutes of great conversation I had been convinced that I had slammed this one home. Then he said it, the word that I was waiting for…the word that made all previous words irrelevant, “But…” I knew it! “I normally wouldn’t do this because I like to be there to cook it and hand it out, but I’d like to donate 100 lbs of bacon anyway. Is that enough?” he said. Now, knowing that we may need up to 1500 lbs for this thing it may not sound like much, but I knew that to a small family business like Benton’s 100 lbs of what he called “the best bacon made in the U.S.A. today” was very generous. See, Benton’s is the brand of choice for most of the high end restaurants in Napa Valley and Manhattan. He’s probably right, it may very well be the best. “There are two conditions”, he said. “One, I don’t want any promotion. This is about the kids and not about me. Two, our motto is bend, don’t break.” I was blown away at number one, what an incredible human being this guy is! But number two confused me…he clarified. “Our bacon is the most flavorful bacon in the world. Nothing makes me madder than to see someone overcook my bacon. You have to promise me that you’ll cook it ’til it bends but doesn’t break.” You have a deal Allan, bend but don’t break.
I strongly urge every fan of BaconFest to go to http://bentonscountryhams2.com/ or call 423-442-5003 and order something, anything…bacon?? Tell them the folks at TriCities Bacon Fest sent you or more importantly just tell them “Thank you” for supporting us.
Travis Woodall, Festival Director