Ridge Quest Inc
Chandra Maleckas Bunker
Ridge Quest Inc. is an agricultural service business which provides, consulting, tool and die, engineering, product design, research and development for food producers and non-agricultural companies.
What makes your business one of the best small businesses in your community?
Ridge Quest was created to provide agricultural information and services for growers that feed our communities. Located in the heart of Michigan’s apple country—rural Kent City, our passion is reducing pesticide inputs in food, and developing products for crop control that are effective and soft on the environment. This passion started when I first began working in the agriculture industry and I saw the ways that crop consulting could be improved. I had not started my family yet but was thinking, “what can I could do as one person to help the environment and protect my future children in my small way?” I could use my integrated pest management training in fruit entomology to reduce unneeded controls. The average person buying food at the market does not consider all the people and knowledge involved in producing, picking, and placing produce in the store. Ridge Quest wants to ensure that information to produce safe and nutritious food is always available for our communities.
The following responses will be considered in judging for a SCORE Award.
How has working with a SCORE mentor helped your business?
We worked with our first score mentor named Mike Tamm three years ago to receive help for our business plan and startup business product we were developing. We received an SBA loan from that business plan. Mike introduced us to Tom Hollen who helped with production flow and engineering on our assembly machine. Mike also introduced us to Fred Kistler who is a QuickBooks master and taught me how to look at some of the reports differently and set up inventories. The last mentor we have worked with for the banking industry is Christian Glupker who we contacted about restructuring our loan and investing information. Score has always provided a wealth of knowledge in whatever area that we need at the time. They are well versed in all things
Please describe the specific ways that your business has been successful and how it will grow in the next year.
Ridge Quest Inc. started with a single service of consulting for fruit growers in 2001. We have expanded our consulting business to cover most of the West side of Michigan. We now include tool and die for design and building of our research products, application of our product and other company’s products in a commercial setting. Engineering and design of products for agricultural and other areas has been added to the list of services. We have applied for several competitive grants in USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and received them. Our business revenues have grown steadily and we have added 4 full time employees in the last few years. Our business continues to grow to fit the needs of agriculture.