Grape rewards

Differentiation from competitors is key when it comes to business. What started out as a hobby for Michael Haubrich, president of Racine-based Financial Service Group Inc., has become a way for him to differentiate his company from his competitors.

About five years ago, Haubrich purchased a duplex for family members that had two mature grape vines on the property. Haubrich harvested the grapes and made a small batch of grape jam.

“Since that first batch, I’ve really gotten carried away with it,” Haubrich said. “I created a monster, but only because it was so well-liked by clients and the people I originally gave it to.”

Haubrich now produces around 500 jars of grape jam annually.

He started by harvesting the grapes from the vineyards in the back yard of the property he purchased.

“Reducing the grapes is a lot of work, and some years I could tell I wasn’t going to have as good of a crop as previous years,” Haubrich said.

To keep things consistent and slightly less time consuming Haubrich did some research and found some vineyards in Michigan that sell organic unfiltered grape juice. He began purchasing the bottled grape juice to make his jam a few years ago.

“It’s all completely organic and unprocessed,” he said. “If it wasn’t, you would definitely be able to tell the difference. It also helps cut a little bit of time out of my production process because I don’t have to spend three hours or more reducing the grapes I harvest each year.”

The company ships jars of the jam to clients across the country and also makes it available along with freshly baked bread when people come to visit the office.

“It’s been great,” he said. “People really appreciate the innovation and creativity of the product.”

The jars are outfitted with a custom-made label for Financial Service Group, and Haubrich plans to continue to make the jam as long as people still like it.

He recently finished this year’s first batch and has gotten his process down to making 50 jars an hour.

“I can do about 500 jars in a 12-hour day,” Haubrich said. “Maybe the tradition will die with me,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone is going to pick it up when I’m done, but I’m going to continue to make it as long as people still like it because it’s something I enjoy doing.”

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