Stephanie Layman, owner of To Your Door produce delivery, holds her 3-year-old son, Matthew, while her daughter, Jessica, 10, stands by. Layman’s four children, including her twin boys, Austin, 14, and Dylan, 14, do their part to make the business work.

Produce by mail

Published 6:47am Sunday, April 1, 2012

As a small business owner and mother of four, Stephanie Layman knows time is a valuable commodity.

There is rarely enough of it, and hardly any that could be considered free.

That is why she is trying to free up some time for others with her Niles-based produce delivery service, To Your Door.

Founded in 2004, To Your Door specializes in the delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables to local communities in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana.

“The trend is people want things to be simple, and they want things to be easy,” Layman said. “People need to eat, but they don’t always have the time or the desire to go to a farmer’s market or to a farm to pick their own produce.

“We can fill that need and give them the time to do the things they want to do.”

Layman and her aunt, Sharon Boyer, developed the idea for To Your Door in 2004. At the time, Boyer had relocated to Michigan from Kansas after retiring from a career in the banking industry. Layman was a stay-at-home mother.

Fresh delivery

Both wanted to start a company that would bring fresh produce to peoples’ doorsteps.

“We started by delivering raspberries and strawberries to friends at the ballpark,” Layman said. “People loved getting the fresh berries, and soon we realized there was a demand for it.”

To Your Door had just one customer when it launched. Layman remembers taking hours to create the first produce basket.

“It is comical for us to look back and see how long it took for us to put that first basket together — and it was just one basket,” she said.

To Your Door has a few more customers these days.

Strong growth

The business serves more than 100 customers, but Layman expects that number to reach more than 200 by the end of the year.

“We’ve had some exciting new opportunities come our way, and we expect to grow quite a bit this year, but I don’t want to speak too soon about it,” Layman said.

The Laymans grew the majority of the produce they delivered in the early days of the business. Now, they grow about 10 percent and get the rest from local farms.

The reason for the change, Layman said, is customers began wanting a larger variety of produce.

To Your Door has gone from providing a few specialized fruits and vegetables to providing just about everything.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with their weekly produce needs. In a lot of cases, we get really close based on the response I’ve been given,” Layman said.

People can sign up to receive small, large or premium baskets on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The baskets are delivered during a 16-week season that begins in June and ends in early October. Baskets, which feature seasonal items, can be delivered to the home or office.

To Your Door will customize baskets to fit a person’s needs.

“People can rate what items they like or don’t like so they aren’t getting a lot of things they don’t want or aren’t going to use,” Layman said.

People can sign up to receive baskets through the company’s website at tydproduce.com.

Layman, who grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and studied public relations at Michigan State University, said she never would have envisioned running this company 20 years ago.

She met her husband, whose family has been farming in Berrien County since the 1800s, while attending MSU.

“I never had an interest in agriculture until I met my husband,” she said.

“I was working at sports information at MSU, and that’s where my career path was headed.

“Things have changed since then.”

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