People’s Pick: Lean Culinary Services

DeliverLean and OnJuice delivering healthy returns

 

ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The lunch hour can take a huge bite out of office productivity. First there is time wasted deciding where to go, then the time spent getting there, eating and getting back through traffic. If that isn’t enough, add in the food comas after eating too much or the wrong things.

After experiencing the ill effects on the call center he ran at the time, Scott Harris hired a chef to cook healthy lunches for his employees. Results were great — small portions of healthy food increased productivity — and the entrepreneurial wheels started turning.

After checking out the competition and believing he could do better, Harris partnered with Olga Kuzenkov, who owned a Color Me Mine franchise at the time, to launch parent company Lean Culinary Services in September 2011. The company’s main product line: DeliverLean, a healthy meal delivery service, now available to consumers throughout South Florida.

The company won the People’s Pick vote in the Business Plan Challenge Community Track.

After just 18 months, DeliverLean now serves more than 1,000 customers, Harris said. The typical consumer orders the five- or six-day-a-week plan with three to five meals a day; with daily costs ranging from about $24 to $40. Most clients stay on DeliverLean four to five months, he said.

The meals, such as gluten-free turkey lasagna or green shrimp curry, typically include four ounces of a lean protein, four ounces of a gluten-free complex carb and a vegetable — about 400 calories. “Our model is to make people healthy,” said Harris. “We love what we do every day.”

Today, DeliverLean offers service from Jupiter to Kendall, but a national expansion — first to New York — is in the plans for later this year. In its first full year of business, the company netted $3.5 million in revenue and is on track to double that this year, Harris said.

The company still delivers to corporations, such as Ultimate Software, Associated Grocers of Florida and the Florida Panthers. It also markets to doctors to prescribe to their patients (its medical meals are labeled with more detail). Because of customer requests, last year the company added a gluten-free, low-sugar baked goods line; this year it is working on a children’s line, with different portions and child-friendly packaging.

In January, the company launched OnJuice, a cold-pressed organic juice line that offers 15 flavors, such as Skinny Greens, Unbeetable and Pearfection. With cleanses and kale trending as the buzz words of 2013, Harris is expecting quick national growth, seeing OnJuice as the company’s sales leader in three years. Customers like to “cleanse’’ (it offers 10 specialty and two basic cleanses) to kick-start their weight loss plan, and then segue into the DeliverLean meal plan, he said.

“Most people don’t get the phytonutrients associated with roughage and salads and vegetables. A lot of times you don’t have the interest in eating two pounds of raw kale. We can give it to you in liquid form,” Harris said, adding that OnJuice is available nationally.

Also coming this year: An expansion of its vegetarian line and the addition of vegan and raw food offerings. "We recently hired a certified raw foods chef and we are working on a whole line of Rawsome products," Harris added.

Food giveaways continue to be a big focus of the company’s marketing plan. The best way to sell is to allow customers to taste the food, the company has found. Most weeks DeliverLean and OnJuice go to community events, gyms and companies, letting people sample the food and juices.

Kuzenkov, who says she has been juicing all her life, says she’s inspired by hearing their clients’ success stories. “We feel like we are changing people’s lives.”

Read more Business Plan Challenge stories from the Miami Herald

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