That’s Jeff of Heiwa Tofu. He and I are about the same age and we’ve been working on building our companies for about the same period of time: 10 years.
I went up last week to Maine to visit Heiwa because we wanted great footage of tofu being made to help tell the story of what Jeff does and why we think its so cool. Heiwa Tofu is one of the reasons your Zucchini Sandwich tastes so good this year. I was thinking: it’s a long drive, I don’t want to take my team from what they’re doing, I’ll run an overnight trip to Maine and get it done.
In this image Jeff is mixing the soy milk, to which he’s just added calcium sulfate, a salt that makes the soy milk curdle. He was telling me how this step is so critical to the soy milk, and how despite a team of 8 or 10 people he still does this part himself, for every single batch, starting at 6am each production day.
I was scratching my head at that, thinking reflexively: you need to give that job to somebody else. When I realized I was 5 hours north of Boston for similar reasons. It’s pretty funny.
And I think anybody building a company can probably relate. You pour yourself into what you’re doing. You find yourself staring the soy curds or driving an 11 hour round trip to Maine to grab some video to better tell a story.
Let me tell you why I think you should care as much as we do: Jeff was a high school science teacher. He quit that and wanted to do something good, something related to food. And so he started working with tofu. He’s not a vegetarian but thought it would be great to get local farmers to grow soy beans then make delicious fresh tofu. I really like the company he’s building. When you buy his tofu (via Clover as we’re featuring this right now) a bunch of that $ goes to Maine farmers. And it’s delicious.
We’re really lucky that Jeff has chosen to give of himself in this way. Thanks Jeff!!!