IAM1742 – Producer Offers the Widest and Most Diverse Selection of Honey

Podcast Interview with Jay Jermo

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the CEO Podcasts, host Gresham Harkless interviews Jay, a producer, and distributor of both Michigan raw, custom flavored honey as well as specialty mono/poly-floral honey from around the world.

Jay's goal is to offer the widest and most diverse selection of pure, unadulterated, farm-produced honey direct to consumers. Jay's current product lines are represented by specialty apiaries in Michigan, Italy, and Hawaii. He also runs a blog dedicated to honey-based gourmet recipes and specialty apiaries around the world.

During the interview, Jay talked about his CEO Hack and trying to offload things that he isn't as good at and hiring the right people, and being selective. Jay shares his CEO nugget, which is that persistence is more important than the product. He defines being a CEO as “not taking crap from anyone.” Overall, the podcast provides insights into the world of honey production and distribution, as well as the importance of persistence and standing up for oneself in business.

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Jay Jermo Teaser 00:00

Keeps my social circle relatively small and the people I work with even smaller, but they're the best relationships I have. All the markets that I work at, all the market masters, the people who run them, they tell me about events all the time. They're my best avenues, they are my conduit to customers. I don't need advertising cause of them.

Intro 00:22

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:50

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation. And if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here, and that's evident in attracting and retaining clients but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI- diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month. We are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO Nuggets, but also interviews that focus on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset- their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Jay Jermo of Hey Honey. Jay, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Jay Jermo 02:21

Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Gresham Harkless 02:24

No problem. Super excited to have you on. Before I jumped in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Jay so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Jay is a producer and distributor of both Michigan raw, custom flavored honey, as well as specialty mono and poly floral honey from around the world. His goal is to offer the widest and most diverse selection of pure, unadulterated farm-produced honey direct to consumers. Their current product lines are represented by specialty Apiaries in Michigan, Italy, and Hawaii, and he also runs a blog dedicated to honey-based garment recipes and specialty apiaries around the world.

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Jay, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Jay Jermo 03:02


[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:02

Let's do it. So, to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and hear how you guys started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story and tell us a little bit about what led you to get started with the business?

Jay Jermo 03:12

I don't want this to go on because I can have a tendency to run out the mouth. I used to work in advertising and the print medium and when the crash about weight happened, employment was on and off for a couple of years. I eventually ended up getting a job in options with a bank in Michigan.

So I moved back to Michigan. I'm from here, and after about a year, I had vacation time and took a drive around the state and stopped in to see a cousin of mine where we had spent time as kids up on a farm a couple of hours north of May. This cousin was maybe four family members who raised honeybees and honey for wholesale and direct sale.

He had gotten married a few years prior and they created a couple of specialty flavors for different food pairings. We worked out an arrangement where I'd underwrite some hives and he'd teach me a bit about beekeeping. I would work on raising my own stock. I did that down closer to me as well, and then just helped with bottling and eventual distribution in my local area and that grew for a number of years.

I parted ways with my family, underwrote my own highs, set up my own high yards and started raising my own products. Then at a lot of my markets, I had people inquiring about specific flower types, honey from specific flowers from different parts of the world. So I was an LLC at this point, so it comes a write-off. So I started flying around the world and finding people who have great products, great honey products, but maybe they're not necessarily great at distributing it outside of their locale.

I started building relationships with those beekeepers and with import-export groups. Bring it over here and build the website and just in short, open up the market to people who are honey fans to different products that they don't have, they don't readily have access to. Yeah, that's pretty much the long and short of it.

Gresham Harkless 05:25


Jay Jermo 05:25

Half my time is spent with raising colonies and then the extraction port portion's pretty quick or relatively quick. And then just bottling and taking it to markets. Really, that's all the heavy lifting.

Gresham Harkless 05:39

Yeah. No, I absolutely like that. I was gonna ask you for what I call your secret sauce. Do you feel like being able to make those connections is what you feel sets you or your business apart?

Jay Jermo 05:48

I have this innate fear of talking about myself in a self-congratulatory tone because I just feel like the universe don't want that. If I'm so much different, so much better, the universe is gonna knock it off. There are other people who do what I do, they probably don't do it the way I do it. Like when I started doing Honey, that was the first job I had in 38 years that I liked. I'd read about people who'd started companies and it wasn't really a money thing. I mean it was, but it was more like I couldn't wait to get up and do my thing.

When I go to market, especially in the summer, so you know, COVID is ruining it, but people come out, you get to interact. It's a loose atmosphere. Like all my other jobs, I've worked in an office, I wore a tie with absolutely soul-killing. I like this job because, I wouldn't say it allowed me to be myself, I just did it by default. I'm not everybody's cup of tea. I'm not everybody's particular brand divide, but the people who, because I speak very, very frankly and there's a chunk of the population that are honey eaters, they love that, they come to me religiously and those are the customers I want and I serve them just on a direct basis at my local markets.

I know that they exist outside of Southeast Michigan. I know they're all over the place. The purpose of the blog was to figure out how to make this business more not so anchored to where I'm at. I love all my customers and I love servicing them, but I guess if I were to say what's my vision or why I do it like this, it's to find different avenues to do it more effectively. I like it because ultimately my body's gonna break down. I can't be like luggin, hunting around forever, but I would like to be able to offer the same kind of service in the most efficient manner possible. Because right now I'm doing the bulk of the work myself.

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Gresham Harkless 08:00

I definitely appreciate that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Jay Jermo 08:13

I'll tell you what's something that will make people more effective, but I suck at implementing it. It's figuring out, I hate saying it like this, but how to get out of your own way and how to not take on all the responsibility. Like when you can figure out how to offload things that you're not good at.

I'm pretty good at selling honey and talking with people and getting them to try things and making people laugh. That's my thing. The actual production and rearing queens and all I'm all right at, but anything that has to do with technical components to the website that can make a blog entry, maintenance of that kind of thing or you mentioned scaling up a business, I would either need to have partners or strategic partners, people that I can work with.

There's a balance there where our companies are not necessarily intertwined or you have to hire appropriately. Every CEO will tell you that hiring isn't a challenge line. That's just not true. Like finding people who are really, really dependable and good at what you need them to do, they don't stay employees for very long. They figure it out and they're like, I'll just do this on my own. I think I kind of side stepped your question there.

Gresham Harkless 09:37

I feel like you do

Jay Jermo 09:38

I try real hard not to take on activities that are part of the business that I know are gonna slow me down and are not necessarily revenue generating. I think the website is the best portion of that. I went through three designs before I found somebody, and I was like I have very little money for you. It all goes back into production.

But he just happened to be a great guy and he turned out to be a really wonderful friend. I got my guy John, and he basically built the thing in an hour and a half. Some people may say it looks like it does what it needs to do. I retain customers over it and I can add content to it. So I think that's the hack is being really selective with who you work with.

Gresham Harkless 10:28


Jay Jermo 10:28

I'm not in any hurry. I don't have a lot of web designers come to me and be like, Hey, we do this and that. I'll know it, you'll know. I think here's the hack. Really trusting. what's in your gut? That's hard for most people.

I get irritated easily. If I don't have a complete vibe of genuine behavior, I don't want anything to do with the person I'm talking about and I cast them off right away. That keeps my social circle relatively small and the people I work with even smaller, but they're the best relationships I have. All the markets that I work at, all the market masters, the people who run them, they tell me about events all the time. They're my best avenues for, they are my conduit to customers. I don't need advertising because of them.

Gresham Harkless 11:14

No, I love those. I think those are all quality hacks. So you might have already answered this, but I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell yourself if you were to hop into a time machine.

Jay Jermo 11:28

Okay. Actually, I do have this, have you seen that new Michael Keaton movie that came out about Ray Crock, the founder, about the guy?

Gresham Harkless 11:36

Netflix? Yes.

Jay Jermo 11:37

So these are pretty controversial figures for what McDonald's is, but he has a couple of tenants for how he got the company going. This isn't rocket science that I'm gonna deliver to anybody here, but it's really true, is persistence is so much more valuable and important than product deliverable strategy or business plan.

Just when you keep hammering at something, it's like a law of attrition. If you work on something long enough, you can bang through it. I was lucky in that, a lot of people like honey, but I would've fallen by the wayside in all of my markets if I didn't show up rain or shine every time. I mean it. It's my job now. I got to be there.

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Anybody who's thinking about starting something or building something and it's not where you want it, I'm not where I wanna be. Like I'd love to have birth bees money. But instead of getting there in seven or 10 years the way they did, it's gonna take me a lot longer.

But I've seen steady growth since I started this, and the only reason I've seen it is, I don't wanna pat myself on the back, but I think I'm pretty dependable in terms of, I say I'm gonna do something. Yeah, it sounds really easy, but these kids today, they don't.

Gresham Harkless 13:09

Get off my line. Get off my line. Yeah, absolutely. No, you're right. It's so funny because I don't know if there was something it wasn't about consistency. But it was right in line. I think lockstep was a grit, how grit is a really big determinant of success.

It's not so much that you figure it out on day one, it's that you figure out it on day 1000 a lot of the times, and you're just going and doing it over and over again, but you have the will and desire to continue to consistently chop at the tree and get to where you wanna be. So I think that's a phenomenal nugget.

I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, and we're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show. So Jay, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Jay Jermo 13:48

I think it's kind of like that becomes a grandiose title that people like. I don't wear a three-piece suit. I don't have a super nice office with glass. I don't have any of that stuff. To me, it just means I can use profanity a lot, so I'm not gonna try not to. It's just I don't take crap off of anybody. To me, that's the best part.

Gresham Harkless 14:10

Jay, truly appreciate that. Appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was to pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're doing.

Jay Jermo 14:22

Wow. I don't really have any book recommendations but welcome new customers. If you wanna try something, you can visit me at And that's hey honey because there's another company of a similar name, but they're a cosmetics company. That's not me. On Instagram at jayheyhoney, I have some other ones, but I don't use them.

Those are probably the best ones. And yeah, please, folks out there. Keep cooking. Keep eating. That's what butters our bread.

Gresham Harkless 14:52

Absolutely. We will definitely have the links and information and the show notes. So you may not have a book recommendation, but going to your blog is definitely one of them.

Jay Jermo 14:59

So yeah, I do have a recommendation.

Gresham Harkless 15:00

Go for it.

Jay Jermo 15:01

I take that back. I have another business, and this isn't to promote the business, but it's to underscore what we talked about for persistence. I have a little hotdog cart last hand, and the reason I got into that is I read this book Hotdog Saved My Life.

It was just about starting a little shop on your own and like what the mechanics of building like a hotdog cart looked like, but the undercurrent within that book is really important. This applies to anything, any venture. You start again going back to what we talked about earlier. Persistence. Is you got to keep plugging away.

Because the first place you plant your flag may not be a place that brings you all the riches. You got to keep hunting and pecking and looking around for opportunities. That's my recommendation.

Gresham Harkless 15:50

Okay. No, I appreciate that and definitely like that recommendation. So we will have that in the show notes as well as with everything else. So Jay, truly appreciate you again, my friend, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:01

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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