Recipe for Success

At the helm of McClure’s Pickles, Joe McClure has turned a family recipe into success

Joe McClure samples some McClure potato chips in the McClure Pickles warehouse
Joe McClure grabs a handful of cucumber's in the McClure Pickles warehouse
Joe McClure sits in the McClure Pickles warehouse next to fresh dill and peppers

In a Pickle

icon of a calendarNovember 15, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Adam DePollo

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Listening to Joseph McClure, CAS ’06, talk about pickles is a rare treat. It’s a bit like hearing a toddler tell you about their favorite toy; that comparison is particularly apt here, since McClure — who co-founded McClure’s Pickles with his brother Bob in 2006 — has been in the pickle business since he was a young boy.

McClure’s signature pickle brand recipe was passed down from his great-grandmother to his parents. Each summer, the family would have an intense pickling session in the kitchen that would produce an upwards of 180 jars.

Torn between starting a family business and pursing a career in medicine, McClure found that he could do both at Oakland University.

“OU was a fantastic climate to be in,” he says, “top-notch teachers, a top-notch research facility. I think that’s something that people don’t really realize.

It’s a top-notch research facility with teachers who aren’t just focused on their own research. They’re really focused on the students, too.”

McClure has a bachelor’s degree in biology from OU and later earned his doctorate degree in physiology from another university, while steadily building the McClure’s Pickles brand.

“I did have a few postdoc programs lined up,” he says, “but I made the decision: I’m going to forgo any sort of salary and go full-blown pickles with my brother.”

The company now cans thousands of jars of pickles at its 20,000-square-foot pickling facility at the former American Axle factory in Detroit. From there, McClure’s is shipped to markets across the U.S. and around the world.

“We literally got started with only a recipe, some hard work, and a passion to share that recipe with the world,”

McClure says, learning, as most OU students find early on, hard work is a key ingredient in success.

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