Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

January 12, 2014

Business uses locally-grown seeds to make culinary oils

TRAVERSE CITY — William Koucky walks through the front door of a large, chilly warehouse off Cass Road every morning with one purpose: realizing a dream.

The former elementary school teacher and violin maker speaks softly as he navigates a maze of huge bags of canola and sunflower seeds, and speaks about what it took to get his unique business, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils, up and running.

“I’ve had this building for about three years,” Koucky said. “We’ve been putting it together piece-by-piece as I could afford it. Recently, I did borrow some money to jump off. Working capital is what I borrowed money for.”

Koucky’s business takes locally grown sunflower and canola seeds and presses them into culinary oils for sale at grocery stores and restaurants. It is one of any number of businesses in the Grand Traverse region that are fighting to make a profit, but for economic development officials, Koucky’s business warrants extra attention.

The business model of processing locally grown agriculture products to give them added value – in this case sunflower and canola seeds converted into cooking oils – is known in economic development-speak as value-added agricultural processing.

Many economic leaders believe the concept is critical to job growth in northern Michigan.

“Instead of sending product out of the region and then having to buy it back, you take the product, process it here, and sell it here,” said Doug Luciani, president and chief executive officer of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, which recently loaned Koucky’s business about $15,000.

“Others involved in economic development think this is really the secret sauce for the foreseeable future when it comes to economic growth,” Luciani said.

Getting Grand Traverse Culinary Oils started was difficult for Koucky, who acknowledges there’s still a long way to go to make a profit. One of the biggest obstacles is finding locally grown canola that isn’t genetically modified. This growing season he contracted with a Leelanau County farmer to grow canola.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl