Groundbreaking Maine Company Celebrates Milestone
Cundy's Harbor, ME – January 2010 – After years watching tourists struggle to eat whole lobsters, Maine native Cal Hancock was determined to find a way to make it easier for consumers to enjoy lobster at home – wherever they live – but without all of the work.
"Lobster is such a wonderful food – and it's so integral to Maine culture," said Hancock. "It was a shame that it was so hard to access if you weren't able to visit."
With one recipe and a small facility in Cundy's Harbor, Hancock set out to make her dream of a value-added lobster company a reality. Ten years ago, she started by conducting focus groups, speaking with customers, and developing delicious products that could be delivered throughout the country. And with that, a new industry was born. "We debuted our signature product, Cundy's Harbor Lobster Stew, 10 years ago on the internet when the only way to get lobster was to visit Maine or have it shipped live," she said. "I have always wanted to make eating Maine lobster easier, delicious and without the fuss for folks around the country."
And easy it is. With foods delivered fresh or frozen, preparation is limited to baking and serving – a fact that has made it easier for customers like Sheila S. to get their lobster fix. "This (Lobster Mac & Cheese) is truly one of the best inventions in the history of mankind! I love this dish and will be willing to eat many servings."
Hancock grew up around her grandmother's lobster restaurant on the coast of Maine, so she already knew the ins and outs of the lobster business, but starting a whole new category of products was a pioneering move.
"When she told our family and friends, their first reactions were often: 'she did what?!'," said Hancock's husband Jack Rosberg. "She took a chance and has built an entirely new market segment from the bottom up. On a business level, it is sort of amazing, and on a 'follow your dreams' level, it is a fairy tale." As many fairy tales go, there was a lot of work put in to make the business into what it is today. The lessons Hancock learned at her grandmother's feet helped her through the tough times and guided her creation of a solid company founded with traditional Maine values. "Working side-by-side with my grandmother gave me many valuable lessons about great customer service, the best tasting lobster and providing the best Maine experience possible," Hancock said. "Those have stayed with me to this day and we try to achieve all of those things and more with our products and services here at Hancock Gourmet Lobster."
With these principles guiding her, she took a handful of family-inspired recipes and worked to open consumers' eyes to lobster as an accessible gourmet food. She grew her customer base through her catalog and website and built relationships with the country's leading retailers and premier food catalog companies to open new markets for her products. She worked to raise awareness and advocate for consumers to incorporate more of Maine's finest seafood into their everyday lives. A decade later, her offerings include more than 40 entrées, appetizers, soups, stews and desserts, and have earned her a dedicated following of satisfied customers. And she hasn't stopped there.
"We have lots of ideas for new products and are experimenting every day," she said. "Lobster is a really fun ingredient to work with – there are so many things you can do with it. Plus, I feel great about supporting one of Maine's oldest and most recognizable industries."
Hancock's ground-breaking products have received high praise from industry groups and food editors, as well as from the nation's leading publications. Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company's products have won many awards, including four gold and six silver sofi™ awards from the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade considered the "Oscars" of the specialty food industry.
"We started the company to make Maine lobster more accessible and with a commitment to creating the highest quality products for our customers," said Hancock. "It's an honor to have those efforts recognized."
With a test kitchen in Cundy's Harbor and a larger production facility in Topsham, Maine, Hancock continues her work to increase the accessibility of Maine lobster and seafood to consumers across the country. In celebration of the company's 10th year, she hopes to increase that awareness through a series of promotions, which will include contests, special offers, new products and other promotions for her customers. "Ten years later we are thrilled with how far we've come," she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing where the next ten years takes us."
About Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company was founded in 2000, and is located in Cundy's Harbor and Topsham, Maine. The company creates gourmet Maine lobster and seafood products that are all-natural, contain no preservatives and are made from the finest ingredients. Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company has received many prestigious awards and has been featured in several national magazines, newspapers, blogs and food TV shows. Products can be found at fine food markets, in catalogs nationwide, or directly though the company. For more information, please visit HancockGourmetLobster.com.
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If you'd like more information about Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company, or to schedule an interview with Cal Hancock, please call 800-552-0142 or e-mail Cal directly at cal@HancockGourmetLobster.com.