When a vehicle retires from the U-Haul fleet, it’s put up for sale. Many people and businesses purchase these vehicles for business needs such as storage, mobile billboard advertising, or making deliveries. Sweet Beginnings, LLC came across this very need. They needed to find a solution for transporting staff to maintain their bee farms and deliver their products to stores across Chicago.
Sweet Beginnings, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network and offers full-time transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment in a green industry. Sweet Beginnings produces the beelove® family of products, an all-natural line of raw honey and honey-infused body care products. The workers make beelove® products, ship products, track inventory, fill product orders, sell at retail outlets such as Whole Foods, perform quality control, and harvest honey. Brenda Palms-Barber, Executive Director and CEO of Sweet Beginnings, launched her idea in 2003. “The business was started to create jobs for men and women who have been incarcerated and want to work but have difficulty due to their backgrounds”. She wanted to give people a sweet beginning. In 2010, it was clear the demand for beelove® raw honey and honey-infused body care products were increasing and they did not have a way to transport the staff or extracted buckets of honey.
Brenda knew she had to find a solution quickly to keep her business moving forward. “I immediately thought of U-Haul,” said Palms-Barber. “U-Haul is well respected for its reliable and high-quality trucks and fair deals”. Palms-Barber knew that a retired U-Haul vehicle would be the perfect way to help her find a solution for her growing problem. “I am so pleased to share that they worked with me to understand my budget and the uses of the vehicle and we left with a beautiful vehicle that has helped us to build our business”.
With the help of the U-Haul Truck Sales Program, Sweet Beginnings LLC has only seen positive increases. Since getting the van in 2010 it has improved their ability to maintain their bee farms and apiaries which are located throughout the city of Chicago and most notably at O’Hare International Airport. They went from managing 2 apiaries to 5 and increased the number of hives from 50 to 110. Since beelove® Honey is Sweet Beginnings top seller having the van has given them the ability to service more bee farms. Which has resulted in harvesting more honey, increasing revenue and creating more jobs for people who need second chances. Today you can find beelove® honey and skin care products in 41 local grocery stores, 15 natural food and fair-trade boutiques, O’Hare and Midway International Airport and of course online at beelovebuzz.com.
Brenda doesn’t intend for the growing to stop anytime soon. She said that Sweet Beginnings, LLC “experienced 40% growth over last year and is on track to see the same this year.” They aim to “double the number of employees in a year from 20 to 40”. And with that growth means a need for another U-Haul vehicle. “We do plan to purchase a van in the near future and unquestionably will plan to do business with U-Haul.” Thank you, Sweet Beginnings, LLC for doing business with us!
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