The Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard uses a historic, water-power press to turn New York State-grown apples into sweet cider, hard ciders, and fruit wines. Specialty food products, many of which are made right at the Mill, are also sold on-site at the Mill and through their online store.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard is a historic, water-powered mill on the banks of the Fly Creek near Cooperstown, New York. For over 160 years, the Mill has pressed New York State-grown apples into cider. Today, William “Bill” Michaels and Brenda Michaels own not just a mill, but an exciting tourism destination complete with a marketplace, winery and restaurant. The couple completed a major renovation in 2016 and has grown the visitor experience resulting in significant business growth.
To support growth, the Fly Creek Cider Mill needed forklift training and manufacturing equipment. FuzeHub connected the Mill to the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), a non-profit agency. WDI awarded the Fly Creek Cider Mill $10,000 for equipment and $1,200 for training. Today, the Mill is open year-round and employs 45 workers regularly and 9 full-time employees during the winter months.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill wanted to increase sales, expand inventory, and avoid having to lay-off workers at the end of each season. The Mill also wanted to implement a more aggressive marketing strategy, build promotional partnerships, and expand internet sales.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill needed forklift training and certification to support not just current operations, but expected growth. The Mill also needed new equipment for cider production. By addressing worker safety and workplace efficiency, the Mill would be ready for needed growth.
FuzeHub learned about the Fly Creek Cider Mill when Everton H. Henriques, then a Regional Innovation Specialist, met Barbara Ann Heegan, President and CEO of the Otsego Chamber of Commerce, during a press briefing event by the Governor in Albany. Because the Mill enjoyed strong connections with the local business community, Heegan could share its situation and its needs.
Heegan invited Henriques to visit Otsego County, and the Regional Innovation Specialist met with Bill Michaels in Fly Creek. Later, Henriques arranged an on-site visit by Matt Watson, the Director of the Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) at Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s largest economic development organization.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill applied for and won a WDI grant administered by Mary Jo Ferrare, the Mohawk Valley Region WDI Director. The grant consisted of $10,000 for manufacturing equipment and $1,200 for training. Henriques and Dave Palazzoli of the Manufacturing & Technology Enterprise Center (MTEC), formerly the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center (HVTDC), a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center, trained 14 workers, including an employee from nearby Pail Shop Vineyards.
Today, the Fly Creek Cider Mill is using its new manufacturing equipment in a completely renovated production area that hosts expanded operations supporting growth. The Mill now operates year-round, and Bill and Brenda Michaels are ready to meet the increased demand that’s expected not just from increased visits, but from an enhanced online store.
“This is an example of how New York State MEPs, WDI, and a County Chamber of Commerce all worked together to help a manufacturer and its employees succeed. It was great to work with a smart business owner, Bill Michaels, who is truly committed to growing his business.”
-Everton H. Henriques, former Regional Innovation Specialist and current NY MEP Solutions Manager from FuzeHub
“It is seldom a rewarding experience when someone from the government says ‘we are here to help’; however, FuzeHub was a welcome exception. If there are future projects and programs for which the Fly Creek Cider Mill may apply, we would like to work again with Everton H. Henriques.”
-Bill Michaels, co-owner of the Fly Creek Cider Mill