Andy Meddick: No Matter How You Slice It, It Smells Like Success
Andy Meddick will be the first to tell you that he was the unlucky proprietor of “that expensive, crunchy health-food store that everybody had heard of, but nobody shopped at.” Things have changed since he owned Good For You Foods in Lewes, and his current success is testament to the fact that we live—and learn.
Andy was born in Pontypridd in South Wales. His parents also grew up there, attending high school with Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE—otherwise known as ‘60s vocalist and heartthrob Tom Jones. Andy graduated from the University of Wales. Though his major was hydrology (the study of water quality and water dynamics), he was more impressed by the successful management training style of Marks & Spencer, the upscale department store where he worked his way through school. It’s those skills that continue to serve him today.
After college, Meddick landed a job with a local town council as a zoning applications processor. He hated the bureaucracy, but he loved working with the public. It wasn’t long before he was hired by IBM as a systems analyst; the liaison between their business clients and the geeks who wrote code for the clients’ proprietary software. His dream of coming to the United States began to take shape when he landed a job at the Brighton office of Datronics, where, ironically enough, he was assigned to one of their important clients—IBM—in Bethesda, Md.
It was 1994, and Andy was alone in the big city. He placed a personals ad in the Washington City Paper where, unbeknownst to him, another local guy, Tom McGlone, was placing a similar ad. The wheels of fate were turning as both of them answered a third ad placed by a guy who invited them to join him for brunch (giving “multitask” a whole new meaning). Their host notwithstanding, Andy and Tom hit it off, taking up residence together in Ellicott City, Md. in late ’94.
Meddick now had even more reason to remain in this country. He was still at IBM, but he was facing a soon-to-expire work visa. After some effort, his visa was successfully transferred to another company, American Management Systems in Fairfax, Va. The good news is that they sponsored his all-important green card in 1997. The not-so-good news was that he faced a lengthy commute between Ellicott City and Fairfax. Those of you familiar with the Washington, D.C. area know that that trip borders on intolerable. But he was here in his new country, happily employed, and with Tom.
In July 1998, Meddick took a job closer to home in Bethesda, Md. as a business analyst for Marriott Corporation. He was responsible for their user interface-centered Marriott Rewards software, and his appreciation for the hospitality-friendly Marks & Spencer kicked in as he communicated customers’ needs to the technical code-writers.
In 2000 he and McGlone built a small beach house on State Road in Rehoboth Beach. The opportunity arose to expand McGlone’s financial management business, and in the fall of 2005 they moved here full-time. They shopped at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in Annapolis, but hated the 90 minute drive just to buy groceries. This is where Andy smiles ruefully and rolls his eyes. “How hard could it be to run a grocery store?” He and Tom purchased property on Rt. 9 near Lewes and opened Good For You Foods. Though Andy was proud of the gourmet items he carried, he couldn’t shake the “crunchy health food” reputation. “I made my own problem,” he rolls. GFYF closed in October, 2010.
But his love of specialty foods didn’t go away. High-quality cheeses had always sold well, and he envisioned a counter-service based fromagerie where he could “do one thing and do it well.” The name had to sound Welsh, like his beloved Marks & Spencer, or Fortnum & Mason in Knightsbridge. He thought of his childhood vacation spot, the Gower peninsula in Glamorgan County in South Wales. “Morgan” translates to “born of the sea.” His store is on the ocean block of Baltimore Avenue, after all, so Morgan and Gower Cheesemongers became a reality in late 2012.
Andy loves North American cheeses. Seventy-five percent of his inventory consists of high-quality domestic varieties, and the rest is made up of European selections that cannot be properly duplicated in the United States. The U.S. contains 800 small farms producing small-batch cheeses comparable to their European counterparts, and though the name of his store smacks of South Wales, Meddick is all about American-made craft cheeses. “I’m so proud to be an American citizen,” he smiles, “and I’m proud of American products. That’s what Morgan & Gower Cheesemongers is all about.”
As the business builds, Andy spends time uncovering local sources for high-quality inventory. He gave himself that freedom by earning his real estate license in December, 2012. “It’s not all that different from my over-the-counter service,” he explains. “Whether I’m matching a buyer to a house, or letting a customer taste cheese he’s never heard of, it all comes down to relationships.” From anybody else, that might sound a little cheesy, but from Andy Meddick, it’s 100 percent genuine.
Bob Yesbek is a Rehoboth Beach resident. Email Bob Yesbek