When Martin’s Handmade Pretzels’ bakery and headquarters burned to the ground in upstate New York last December, the Martins lost a business that had been in their family for four generations.
Not only was their property destroyed, but the business’s paper checks were gone. Yet Josiah Martin, the owner and manager of the pretzel business, was able to continue making payments with Melio’s digital payments platform. According to Josiah, Melio provided him with one less thing to worry about as he began to rebuild the business from the ashes.
“I started using Melio last year and I absolutely love it. We lost everything in the fire so I didn’t have paper checks but I could immediately send payments with Melio,” says Josiah.
“Without Melio I would have had to order new checks, and write them all by hand, and that was not where I needed to be spending my time as a business owner, especially when I send 15-20 checks a week.”
Hand rolled pretzels
Martin’s Pretzels was started by Josiah's great-great uncle in Pennsylvania in 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression. The business moved to upstate New York in the 1980s. Josiah, who has been involved in various family businesses - including Martin’s Country Store - since he was 10, bought Martin’s Pretzels from his grandfather in 2019.
The pretzels were sold in New York City’s Greenmarkets and, being hand-rolled and stone-baked, they became a tourist attraction with customers ordering the pretzels nationwide and even from abroad.
After buying a business that Josiah says “was still in the stone age,” he began introducing new processes like quality control - with a particular eye to digitization.
“I like technology, I like to be organized,” he says, noting that he saw a lot of room to start tracking important data like margins, cost per product, cash flow and overhead. He brought in David Perry, founder of Latitude Booking Services in Plattsburgh, New York, to help him implement new systems, including Melio’s free and simple B2B payments platform.
Josiah estimates that Melio saves him about half of his back-office time, reducing four hours spent on administrative work a week to two.
A key problem Martin’s Pretzels faced was production capacity and for this reason they decided to relocate their plant. Last October baking began at the new facility with pre-orders for production extending until February 2021. But on December 12 the bakery and headquarters for other family businesses caught fire and everything was lost.
“We live right next to our business, so we were the first ones to know about it. It woke us from our sleep. We couldn’t even enter the building -- it was gone,” says Josiah.
The community banded together and a Gofundme page was launched to help get the business back on its feet. Josiah considers this one of the benefits of being a small business. Some of his suppliers also helped out by delaying payment terms or donating services.
“Everything happens for a reason, and God’s hand of protection was on us and our family,” Josiah says.
On the administrative side all the books and checks were lost in the fire but Josiah was able to immediately begin payments again, thanks to Melio.
“In addition, having already implemented Melio meant they had great month-to-month oversight, backed up digitally -- which was vital in helping the company start again from base zero after the fire,” says David Perry.
Looking back, Josiah calls this experience a “rerouting to something better”. Construction is well underway for a new production facility expected to be up and running by early fall. In the meantime the business is accepting mail orders for their pretzels through their website www.martinspretzels.com.