We are blessed to be a part of an industry that is driven by great cows and is full of great people. However, beyond the universal cow language that we all speak fluently, many of our colleagues are involved in some interesting and unique business ventures. Located in Modesto, CA, George Morasci and his family are the, founders and owners of Five Monkeys Barbecue Sauce.
No stranger to the dairy business George was born on a family farm, and the only boy among six siblings. It, it was a natural progression for George to be involved in the dairy industry and take over the family operation.
But in a sector that was trending towards growing commercial operations, there didn’t seem to be a long-term opportunity for George to stay in business with his registered 200-cow herd. In 2007, George made the agonizing decision to sell the family farm. Shortly after, he became employed as an Ag Appraiser, a job he still does on a full-time basis.
The Birth of Five Monkeys
A few years later, George was grilling dinner for his family, and needed some sauce. Finding nothing in the fridge that would suffice, George mixed some ingredients together, and had his daughter write the recipe down in case he needed to make some adjustments.
It turned out to be pretty tasty! To make sure that his family wasn’t just being nice, George invited some friends over to try the sauce, and they came to the same conclusion.
In 2017, the family decided to give bottling the sauce a shot. The original name was Iron Monkey, a nickname that George had earned at work. But after looking into trademark options, they learned that that name might prove contentious. Five Monkeys was the second choice, a good fit for the 5-member family it represents: George, wife Kelly, and their three kids, Keith (28), Nico (22) and Taylor (19).
“Keith, who had been working out of state, agreed to come home and work as an appraiser with me while trying to get the new sauce company off the ground,” says George. “He did a lot of the legwork that was required to figure out how we needed to proceed.”
George’s connections with friends in the food industry also played a big role in taking the next steps to get the Morascis in contact with the right people.
Five Monkeys Barbecue Sauce takes off
The sauce is business is a genuine family affair for the Morascis. Keith is the day-to-day manager, and uses George as a sounding board when issues arise. Nico fills in where he can before and after his regular job.
Taylor manages shipping and design needs of the business along with Kelly, who also looks after research and development, as well as direct deliveries.
“We talk over most of the decisions as a family, and value the input from our kids, since the sauce business is their future,” says George.
The sauce is bottled locally, and the family handles all sales from their home office. Sales are predominantly online, but George sees that changing soon, as there are plans for 250+ stores to come aboard and sell the sauce in 2018.
“We currently do direct sales with most stores and restaurants,” says George. “Some are individual stores of larger chains, and some are mom-and-pop businesses. We are also in half a dozen restaurants, with more coming soon!”
As a small start-up company with limited funds, the bulk of the marketing is done online through social media with sales being available through the online store on the Five Monkeys website, as well as through Amazon. “Thankfully, my kids are great at social media.” says George, “This has been a true asset to our business as both Facebook and Instagram are huge for us.”
While the global demand for their product has been incredibly humbling, the Morascis hope to gain every store possible that makes viable sense for them. “We have been in talks with some national chains, but we don’t want to over-extend ourselves too fast, so that will take some time,” said George.
Customer service and satisfaction is a huge priority for the business, and will continue as such as it grows. In addition to growing their presence in stores, there are plans for two more flavours of sauce to be released later this year, with more being developed.
Still a Cow Man
While owning cows might not be his main focus, George still stays involved with the dairy industry, partnering on several top animals scattered around the globe.
“I love visiting the people I have met and done business with over the years,” says George, “and I still get great satisfaction from finding a potential ‘great one’ and selling her to someone that can take her to the proverbial promised land.”
Some of his favorites over the years have been Brackleyfarm Chelios Cheerio EX-96, who he owned with Adam Hodgins when she was a Milking Yearling and sold just before Madison that year; Locker-Lane Enhancer Lady EX-96, who won the Aged Cow class at the Royal in 1992 and was owned with Bob Morrell and Wayne and Willis Conard; and Miss Rosey EX-94, who he helped deliver with his wife on their own dairy, and was owned in partnership with Mike Deaver and Bob Fitzsimmons.
George is currently excited about Brigeen Brash Paddy, who was just 1st Intermediate Yearling and Junior Champion at the recent Atlantic Spring Show. Owned with Blair and Jamie Weeks, Michael Heath, Dusty & Nicole Schirm and Frank & Diane Borba, Paddy will sell in August at the East Coast Style sale in PEI (since this issue was published, Brigeen Brash Paddy sold to Glamourview, MD for $46,000)
While looking for animals that appear to be on the rise, and that have a bright future as they mature, when deciding to buy in on an animal looking for great partners is equally important to George. “With me not being in the dairy business full-time anymore, it’s important for me to have great partners – that have insight into the current market trends and are well-connected and easy to get along with.”
“I’ve been very blessed to have been involved with some great cows over the years, but the best part is the people that I’ve met and visiting them is something I look forward to!”
A humble attitude and a commitment to and passion for people has not only been key in dairy industry partnerships for the Morsaci family but has been essential to their business model for Five Monkeys Barbecue Sauce. As the company continues to grow and gain market share, you can bet that there will be a mouth-watering smell in air at Madison as George cooks for the MD-Hillbrooke crew, combining his passion for barbecue sauce with his passion for people and great cows.