2007 Michael Bunn Memorial Rising Star Award
The Savannah Bee Company
What defines the entrepreneur? Risk taker, commitment, a passion for the product? All of these descriptions define the recipient of the Michael Bunn Rising Star Award which is presented annually to a business assisted by SBAC who has exemplified all the traits listed above. It is our distinct honor to present the 2007 Michael Bunn Rising Star Award to Ted Dennard, owner of The Savannah Bee Company.
Mr. Dennard first became interested in honey when he met an old beekeeper out in the boondocks south of Savannah, named Roy Hightower. He began learning the craft and became enthralled with the art of bee-keeping. Ted kept bees in high school and while attending the University of the South in Sewanee. His interest in honey bees has even taken him to New Zealand, Vietnam, Jamaica and France.
In 1998, while teaching a course for the Savannah Board of Education he began selling jars of Tupelo Honey at One Fish Two Fish, a high end antiques store here in Savannah. He was bottling honey in his kitchen then but, when four other stores wanted to sell his honey he moved to the garage. The business continued to grow until Ted had to ask himself “to bee or not to bee.”
In January of 2002, Ted quit his job, mortgaged the house, and put all the money into the business. The honey making “factory” moved into an old classroom at Oatland Island giving him 800 square feet to ply his trade. The new space brought the need for $5,000 to buy beehives, and it was at that time he met a woman he describes as remarkable. Becki Fowler, a banker at Sea Island Bank reviewed his request and said “yes.”
The next break came at the San Francisco Food Show in 2003. A sales rep from Williams-Sonoma told Ted they wanted his product, putting The Savannah Bee Company into a national market. This was followed by Dean & DeLuca, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdales and Bath & Body Works.
Savannah Bee leased a 6,000 sq. ft warehouse close to downtown and soon expanded into every corner of the space. Now with the help of Colony Bank and Heather Peloquin, Ted has purchased the old Wilmington Cabinet Company space on Wilmington Island as a permanent home for the Savannah Bee Company, a space of 15,000 sq. ft.
Ted Dennard and the Savannah Bee Company are the SBA Small Business of the Year Award winners for the State of Georgia which puts him in contention for the National Award to be presented in January, 2008.