By combining the best of boutique businesses in Israel’s Galilee, an entrepreneur has managed to increase sales and job opportunities.
By Avigayil Kadesh
David Peled believes in combining social responsibility with Zionism. In 2008, after a successful career in Israeli retail, the former army officer and counselor for disadvantaged children founded Galilees – a corporate umbrella that brings together and markets internationally an array of products produced by small businesses in the Galilee.
Peled, 50, was coming off a successful run as founder of the Israeli camping goods chain, Ricochet, when he and business partner Robert Faktor bought Moraz, a Galilee-based maker of herbal healing and skincare products. "Moraz exposed us to the world of small businesses and boutique industries in the Galil," says Peled. He kept his eye on this world as he grew Moraz from three employees to nearly 60, and expanded its reach to markets in 18 countries. "This inspired me to do something larger and find other companies that we could introduce to the world, as well as increase their distribution in Israel," says Peled.
Developing the economy through small business
Galilees products are available in specialized shops and in a growing range of retailers.
It also makes business sense, he adds. "Americans already understand that developing the economy is going to happen through small business," he observes. He also wanted to create new jobs in the Galilee, which is home to an ethnically mixed population that is often underemployed.
His strategy was simple: Establish one strong brand under which these manufacturers could distribute their products all around the world in a way that wouldn’t be possible for each on its own. He likens this idea to the old Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
"I chose ‘Galilees’ as the name because it speaks to both Christians and Jews, and represents the idea of green and romantic getaways," Peled explains.
Constantly expanding product line
The concept was a hit with business owners approached by Peled. Galilees now encompasses 35 boutique manufacturers categorized into six "roads": wine, ale and liqueur; honey and fruit products (including preserves, artisan chocolates and marzipan); cosmetics and health; olive oils and olives; spices, sauces, dressings and herbal infusions; and art – handmade creations of clay, wood, iron and straw.
Moraz Galilee Medical Herbs is among the Galilees brands, as are Aya Natural soaps and body care products, Galil Mountain Winery, HaBe’er Delicacies natural spreads, sauces, jams and liqueurs, Teva HaGalil skincare products and Love Herbal Infusions.
Step by step
Galilees is now developing special gift packs to appeal to consumers.
The company is developing a range of customer services such as gift packs and gift baskets, a corporate gift program, catalogs for fundraising, and a membership club promising perks such as discounts and special offers.
Galilees is constantly expanding. It has opened dedicated stores in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Kfar Tabor in the north, and the products are available at an increasing number of retailers and chain stores.
"Step by step," says Peled of his business plan. "We also have products selling in stores in Canada and Holland, and in October or November I hope to open the first Galilees store in Canada. This is my concept of the new Zionism, and this is what I love."