Lee Seelig (left) and his father have largely built their company's reputation on the quality of its premium, aged beef and longtime relationships with chefs from some of the most legendary steak houses in the Northeast.

Untangling the Web

The decision to commit to web-based sales and launch The Steak Source was due in large part to peer pressure, according to Lee.

“To be honest it was more of an outgrowth of conversations with a lot of my friends who’ve been telling me for years, ‘your steaks are amazing, you really should be selling them on the internet,’” which he always agreed was a good strategy, but the rapidly increasing pace of the daily business made the venture seem impossible.

Now that the online business has been launched, the goal is not to spike sales as much as it is to increase the company’s presence and increase exposure for its wholesale business in the future. “For the website to even increase our sales by 5 percent would be a huge success,” Lee says. “Our good customers will buy from us almost every day, over and over and over, vs. the model for the website where the average sale is much lower and very sporadic.”

With Brandon Hittner spearheading the marketing and promotion of the website, Lee says the conversations going on between him and Hittner focus on topics such as search engine optimization, unique visitors and pays per click.

“If my grandfather heard some of the conversations Brandon and I are having today, he’d surely think we weren’t talking about the meat business.”

The Steak Source is offering only its most premium products. As the domain name indicates, Lee says, “We are trying to differentiate ourselves. It’s going to be focused on portion control type of products where we can capitalize on our expertise and offering 90 to 95 percent of only prime and dry-aged product.” Other premium products available on the site include a limited amount of Berkshire pork as well as a limited amount of lamb and some premium hamburger blends. The only choice graded beef products available are filet mignon. With the other steaks, which include New York strips, bone-in ribeye, Porterhouse and boneless rib steaks, they’ll be exclusively prime. Of the thousands of product varieties available through Farmingdale’s wholesale business, only about 30 different products are offered via The Steak Source initially. Items will be added as brand recognition grows.

The successful launch of the website depends in large part to the company already being set up and equipped to produce and ship the product in its existing facilities. The e-commerce-based website development was achieved using common software and the resources found by Hittner and a technology-savvy friend of his.

For now, the goals are modest and Hittner says slow, steady, organic growth is the focus.

“We haven’t done any huge advertising campaign or anything yet because we want to be sure that packages are getting where they are supposed to and that we are using the right amount of ice bricks; the cooler boxes we’re using are the right thickness and tweaking logistics. To this point we’ve been able to do everything relatively inexpensively.”

In early December, just after announcing the launch of The Steak Source, a busy day for the online business was anything over four orders.

“We’re just getting off the ground so if we have a handful of orders we’re happy,” Hittner says as the promotion of the site has been strictly through social media, a press release and word of mouth.

“Our approach is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Hittner says.