KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Michael Billings retired from BJ’s Wholesale Club in Westborough, Massachusetts, after 25 years as vice president of meat and seafood procurement. Roughly two years in, he had no plans to return to work until one day, Billings recalled, “…I got this interesting note on my LinkedIn account that said, ‘Interesting background; need to talk,’ and it was the owner of ButcherBox.”
Mike Salguero founded ButcherBox in 2015 using $215,000 he’d raised through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. The online retailer sells and delivers sustainably sourced and humanely raised meat and poultry raised by family farms. “I met him,” Billings said, “and he’s just an amazing guy. I thought what he was trying to do was pretty interesting.”
Billings and Salguero met once and then a second time at a Shake Shack over a chicken sandwich. “I know the meat business fairly well, so I went through all the checkpoints in my head about how complicated, how much time is this going to take and how much work it was going to be,” Billings said. “I decided to help him out.” And that’s how Billings became “employee number 5” as head of procurement at ButcherBox.
No stranger to working at startups, Billings worked for one prior to joining BJ’s. And he found that BJ’s was like a start-up company in some ways, too. In this podcast, Billings discusses his transition to “the neighborhood butcher for modern America,” and the challenges of building a supply chain for claims-based meats.