Today, we’re playing 20 Questions with Kevin Long and Chris Buchanan of the Richardson-based office fruit delivery service ORCHARD At The OFFICE, who have served the Dallas/Fort Worth area since 2010.
Q: Describe your company in fifteen words or less.
BUCHANAN: We deliver fresh fruit to Metroplex offices.
LONG: That’s it. Seven words.
BUCHANAN: Do we win anything?
LONG (laughing): I don’t think it’s a competition.
Q: Where did the name “ORCHARD At The OFFICE” come from?
LONG: I wanted a name that told a story, that gave a clear mental image and conveyed a journey. Here, in this basket of fruit, you have an orchard…right here at your office! It’s worked well for us.
Q: Give us a Fun Fruit Fact we may not know.
BUCHANAN: If you took every fruit on the planet, laid them side by side, and attempted to name them all aloud, you’d irritate people. Even Harlan Pepper would tell you to stop naming fruits.
LONG: One thing I like to show people is how to peel a banana from the bottom, the way monkeys do.
BUCHANAN: And when you do it that way, you don’t get the phloem.
LONG: Right. That’s the technical name for the stringy matter inside a banana.
BUCHANAN: I should have made that my fact. (sighs) I had my chance, but it’s gone forever.
Q: Speaking of bananas, what’s this “bananigans” thing all about?
LONG: It’s really a state of mind, a reminder that health and happiness go together. Whether it’s the “banana smile” or juggling clementines, moments of silliness provide levity that add dimension to a workday.
Q: You describe yourself as a “local business”. What exactly does this mean to you?
BUCHANAN: Well, the company was founded right here in the Metroplex – Richardson, specifically. Our home office is here, our staff live here, and our fruit is sourced from here. While it may be grown elsewhere – I’m certainly not aware of any pear orchards in Rowlett or Euless – the lifeblood of this business is Dallas. These are our friends and neighbors we’re serving.
Q: What’s the most popular fruit in Dallas?
BUCHANAN: Bananas are by far the favorite. We sell tons every week – and that’s not a figure of speech.
LONG: Yeah, bananas are the most popular, but whenever I’m in a conversation with someone, I’ll often ask them what their favorite fruit is. So many times, people say mangoes! I’m not sure why that is, because I don’t see nearly as many people actually eating a mango, but that’s what they say.
BUCHANAN: They could be lying.
LONG: Yeah, they may be lying.
Q: So what’s your favorite fruit?
BOTH (in unison): Mangoes.
Q: What are the smallest and largest offices you serve?
BUCHANAN: There’s one business with only three people, but they’re very dedicated to healthy living, so they go through our 16-piece Mini Office Basket every week. As the Metroplex is the home to so many large-scale operations, we’ve created options for everyone, such as our “Fortune 600 Special”. This helps us serve companies with over 1,500 employees.
Q: What do you do with any surplus fruit?
LONG: When we’re doing really well, there’s barely anything left over at the end of the week! When there is, we donate it primarily to two organizations: the Harvest Project, and the Samaritan Inn in McKinney.
Q: Tell us more about the Harvest Project.
BUCHANAN: Harvest Project is an amazing organization. It was started in 2014 by Danae Gutierrez, who has served on the DISD board and is truly an inspiring individual. It’s a community project that provides fresh produce to families in need at no cost. They’ll provide fruits and vegetables, give recipes and instructions where appropriate, even teach them to shop for bargains. Like Ms. Gutierrez, Harvest Project represents real, grass-roots action to promulgate positive change in Dallas.
Q: What do you suggest Dallas can do as a whole to stay more fit?
LONG: Eat more fruit, of course!
BUCHANAN: Yes. Beyond that, though, we don’t make nutritional suggestions. We leave the dietary recommendations to those far more qualified. Besides, there’s very little consensus and we try to stay out of the fray!
Q: Understood. That said, are there some more pragmatic tips you can suggest?
BUCHANAN: Some things are fairly straightforward. We did contribute a blog post to D Magazine awhile ago with some basic suggestions for how to stay healthy at the office, five minutes at a time.
Q: Along the same lines, how did y’all get involved with the Dallas Running Club?
LONG: That started in 2016 with one of our administrators, Leah Hinton. She’s friends with Erin and Sean Jett, who served on the DRC Board at the time. They were looking for a business willing to donate bananas to their races, and since we believe very strongly in the maintenance of a vital running community for Dallas, we’re happy to help! It’s a great partnership.
BUCHANAN: Yeah, the Dallas Running Club means a lot to us. My wife is an athlete who has logged more miles than I care to count (though she certainly does!) and the whole history of the DRC, Tal Morrison, and White Rock Lake as a sort of “running sanctuary” are fascinating to me. It really feels like we’re part of something special.
Q: What are the trendy fruits right now?
LONG: Avocados are the biggest trending fruit right now. Last year, America spent more importing avocados than any other fruit, including bananas. That is an entirely new development, and our sales reflect the popularity of the avocado.
BUCHANAN: Definitely. I’d also have to say that clementines, also known as “Halos” or “Cuties”, do extremely well. There’s actually several different varieties of citrus we conveniently call “clementines”, and they’re all delicious and have lots of mouth-watering appeal!
LONG: Chris handles our marketing, as you can tell.
BUCHANAN: Fresh fruit, y’all! Visit our website right now! ORCHARD At The OFFICE!
Q: What’s the most unusual fruit you’ve ever sold?
BUCHANAN: Oy vey. Here we go…
LONG: He hates durian, but I love it. Durian’s an Asian fruit that looks like a giant pod – about the size of jackfruit but even more spiky – and when you open it, the edible fruit almost has a banana pudding consistency.
BUCHANAN: And there all resemblance ends.
LONG: It does have this very complex, powerful aroma. I get why people don’t like it, but I find it fascinating. Eating a durian is an event!
BUCHANAN: So’s a tsunami. All I’m saying is that there’s a reason it’s banned on Singapore Rapid Mass Transit. It’s exponential: it starts off smelling like a field of chives, then comes the sulfurous essence, then what can only be described as a “rotting” smell kicks in. Then it’s like they all compete with one another to see which can fill the room quicker. And that pretty much describes the flavor.
LONG: Hey, I’m not saying everyone will like them. More for me, that’s what I say!
Q: Talk about the “seven banana myth”.
BUCHANAN: OK, I learned about this from Karl Pilkington…and when I say “learned”, it was clearly some sort of nonsensical urban myth. The idea was something to the effect that if you ate more than six bananas in a day, you’d have a lethal potassium overdose. It’s been thoroughly debunked in a number of studies, of course, but like Twinkies or zombies, misinformation has no shelf life – it’s always staggering back from its grave to eat the brains of the living.
Q: From a delivery standpoint, what’s your favorite building in Dallas?
LONG: I’ve always liked delivering to the Comerica Bank Tower. The freight dock is efficient, the security staff are courteous and professional, and the entire building is very attractive and easy to get around.
Q: Are there things you’ve learned about Dallas as a result of delivering fruit here that you didn’t know before?
BUCHANAN: Well, I’ve certainly gotten to know all the local structures and the business that dwell within them. I used to go to Klyde Warren Park, for instance, and I’d look around and think “oh, there’s that cool new building with the blue glass, and there’s the one with the D Magazine logo” and so on. Now I’m thinking of the building names, and exactly which business are in there, and which ones are our customers and which ones will be.
Q: What kind of music could we expect to hear at ORCHARD At The OFFICE headquarters?
LONG: That totally depends on who’s in the office! You could hear everything from ambient to metal. I like to have music going to keep the brain’s alpha waves going. But every once in awhile, I’ll mix it up with some Tool or Van Halen.
BUCHANAN: I gravitate toward jazz fusion or any music that Outcry Theatre might employ in one of their amazing shows. I love the music of Tori Amos and Sigur Rós, and that sometimes creates problems as I find myself listening to it a bit too much and getting all emotional and weepy.
Q: Sell me fruit. Right now.
BUCHANAN: Our fruit really sells itself. Quite often, if we make people aware that there’s this office fruit delivery service in Dallas, that concept generates interest.
LONG: Everybody loves fresh fruit. “Would you like a banana?”
BUCHANAN: I would, actually. Let’s go eat.
LONG: Sounds good.