The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Client Spotlight: Humble Pie - Noble Pies
Pie has always gotten Leslie Noble to the next step. Noble’s former career as a pharmaceutical sales person was boosted by pie, enticing doctor offices to accept her friendly sales call with a fresh baked pie in hand. Having baked pies her entire life—a skill learned from her grandmother—she initially baked and then gave away most of what she made. These days, she has a different model.
Like many, for Leslie, 2008 delivered uncomfortable circumstances in the form of the region’s economic hard-hitting recession. At the time, she and her husband, Tom Herman, were in the horse business on their farm in Warwick, Orange County when the economy plummeted and the recession soon began to choke small businesses, such as the couple’s horse boarding operation. Noble said that with a looming mortgage and a need for more household income they began selling pies on the side of the highway, by their farm. Word of their homemade pies using fruit from the local orchards summoned enough masses hungry for pie that soon the the couple was able to leave the highway stand behind, give up horseshoeing, and open a retail bakery in Warwick.
“Beginning this business was an intense experience,” said Noble. “It was absolutely imperative that it succeed, we had a mortgage to pay. Taking my home baking experience and scaling it up to make hundreds of pies per week was quite daunting. To make sure that every pie still tasted like I had just made it at home was the goal, and it appears we have succeeded in that. It has taken a lot of hard work and mental stamina to overcome the beginning stumbling blocks, but we had a lot of support. My family helped quite a bit, especially in the beginning.”
Noble Pies now produces 10,000 pies per year, selling savory, cream, sweet, and holiday pies, selling at the bakery and online.
Noble’s family continues to be involved in the business, however day to day operations fall under her purview. “Our wonderful customers, who, from the very beginning would come in to make sure we were doing OK, and constantly encouraged us [supported us]. Other local business people have helped us out in immeasurably. We have been lucky to have the support of our landlord, our local farms and all the attractions that bring tourists to the area.” Warwick is known for its scenic vistas, U-Picks, quaint shops, wineries, cideries and historic sites.
Noble Pies sources fruits from Ochs Orchard in Warwick and Dan Madura Farms in Pine Island. Noble uses fresh eggs bought from local farms and from her own chickens. The lamb and beef in the savory pies come from Banbury Cross Farm in Goshen and the bacon comes from Lowland Farm in Warwick. Noble maintains pride in her pie’s “homemade” authenticity and does not use preservative of any kind, only relying on natural flavors.
What is Noble’s most popular pie? Apple pie, by a large margin, said Noble. “A lot of our pies are being taken to social occasions and people like a ‘safe’ pie, something they feel will please everyone,” explained Noble. “Our best-selling savory pie is Chicken Pot Pie. Ours is pretty much exactly what customers expect it to be: a classic comfort food that is much better than anything they have bought anywhere else.”
After creating a business plan with HVADC, Noble Pies is planning to expand to a line of frozen pies in a broader market. “HVADC helped us to see the importance of setting clear goals for our growth,” she said. “It helped us realize that some of our aspirations were not as ideal for us as we originally thought.”
“Noble Pies is an example of how one can succeed by focusing on doing one’s craft well, and in this case, that is baking,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director of HVADC. “Noble Pies focused exclusively on pie-making and quickly made a name for themselves. It has been a pleasure watching how they have grown and expanded in such a short time.”
Noble Pies relies on social media quite a bit, followed by search engines and review sites. They also send out press releases and get local television coverage for events to drive customer awareness. Most recently they garnered coverage on both Spectrum News and News 12 for their Will You Marry Cherry Pie on Valentine’s Day.
Learn more about Noble Pies delicious menu of pies, visit https://www.noblepies.com.
Information about HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls program may be found at https://www.hvadc.org/iww.
Photo Source: Noble Pies