Alums Make Their Mark With Enterprise Apis Mercantile

Higher than: Apis Mercantile founders John Berdux and Liam Becker.


Tucked into a nondescript string of warehouses on James Island is a burgeoning organization launched by two University of Charleston alumni and operated by a number of a lot more. Liam Becker ’16 and John Berdux ’14 – the founders and proprietors of Apis Mercantile – are steadily generating inroads with their small business, which contains a line of health supplements and physique treatment and specialty meals solutions produced from beehive substances and hemp extract.

Irrespective of becoming a relatively young business – Apis Mercantile was recognized in 2017 – this enterprise materials items to more than 300 outlets across the U.S. And lately, Becker and Berdux have started to present uncooked honey to eating places and specialty foods makers during the Carolina Lowcountry.

John Berdux and Liam Becker with an staff at the Apis Mercantile facility on James Island. (Pictures furnished)

“We started out as a hemp products and solutions corporation,” clarifies Berdux, who majored in anthropology and political science. “Our close friend Matt Rowe ’14 started a hemp farm in Colorado, so we partnered with him for the hemp extract. But I’ve often had a enthusiasm for beekeeping, so it was only pure that we expanded from advertising honey infused with hemp extract to advertising raw honey as effectively.”

Becker and Berdux both of those trace their small business pursuits back again to the time when they lived with each other throughout college or university in a home on St. Philip Road.

“We all experienced unique hobbies in university,” clarifies Becker, whose key was enterprise administration. “Matt would always be escalating some thing in the yard – grapes, peppers, all forms of veggies. And John experienced his beehives back there, though I had a little surfboard repair business tucked away in the corner. It was a seriously resourceful house and we all supported one particular an additional.”

Soon soon after they graduated from the School, this trio linked around the wintertime vacations and made the decision to work with each other. Rowe was currently farming in Colorado, so Berdux and Becker made the decision they’d form a business to provide products created with hemp extract.

“We had been essentially the very first business to technique the South Carolina Section of Agriculture about creating and advertising hemp foodstuff products in the Palmetto Condition,” says Berdux. “Before we acquired the condition to agree to regulate our sector, we had to do our infusions in Colorado and then ship the items again below to be processed for sale.”

Given that those early times, Apis Mercantile has grown significantly. Berdux and Becker now make use of a few other CofC graduates: Robert Bernatavitz ’19, Rachel Tavolacci ’20 and Eliot Doub ’16. They also sometimes rely on Josh Schmidt ’14 to provide unofficially as the company’s main monetary officer.

5 times a week and sometimes six, the 1,500-square-foot area that the firm occupies is as occupied as a proverbial beehive. There is generally an individual functioning the automated labeling machine though an individual else is filling glass bottles with honey and a further man or woman is packaging products and solutions for shipping and delivery. Close to the entrance doorway, Becker together with Berdux’s spouse, Isabel, function the telephones, chatting with clientele and arranging new orders.

Getting to this level of achievement hasn’t been with out its hurdles. Equally associates say they experienced to master new abilities and lean intensely on a community of advisors that incorporates various professors at the College.

Apis Mercantile helps make a wide range of goods which include honey infused with hemp.

Chris Starr ’83 (who taught laptop science and entrepreneurship right until a short while ago) was a large source of direction for us,” Becker remembers. “Dr. David Wyman, who operates the ImpactX program, was also practical. And we’ve gotten a good deal of tips from Glenn Starkmann (the College’s entrepreneur in residence).”

All of that counsel came in handy as the duo navigated the troubles of developing a business enterprise for the duration of a world pandemic.

“I would say that Liam and I have become artistic issue solvers,” Berdux clarifies, “and we’re not worried to inquire for enable, but yeah, the past 12 months was challenging. A ton of our product sales channels shut as companies slowed or shuttered. So, we had to create different revenue streams, and part of that was introducing raw honey to our products line.”

For both of those Becker and Berdux, getting in enterprise signifies a great deal more than basically turning a profit. Their organization has constantly been managed with sustainability in mind. On a single degree, that usually means packaging merchandise in recyclable glass jars and compostable paper tubes. On yet another it suggests functioning directly with beekeepers so that those farmers comprehend a much better financial gain margin without having middle males included. It also usually means modeling Apis Mercantile as a superior local community spouse.

“We’ve usually been neighborhood oriented,” Berdux states. “We function with and aid several nearby nonprofits. To assistance companies these as Surfers Healing, Warrior Surf Foundation and the Eco-friendly Coronary heart Challenge is essential mainly because these companies do critical work and make a tangible variance enriching the life of people who would not usually have that.”

In the near long run, Berdux and Becker system to extend their facility to accommodate a rising need for Apis Mercantile’s merchandise. Their programs also contain having on extra staff members.

“If we can seek the services of much more graduates from the School,” Becker claims, “that’s what we’ll do. Immediately after all, we know the caliber of men and women coming out of there – it’s where we received our start out.”