Russell Broughton Jr. and Nathan Simpson were a couple of years apart at Seymour High School, and both wound up serving in the Marine Corps around the same time.
They ran into each other during a tour in Iraq in 2008, and then they were stationed on the same forward observing base in Afghanistan for a few months in 2010.
After both men were discharged, they went separate ways but kept in contact.
Broughton started a family and attended Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus for three years before landing a job as an electrician, while Simpson moved to Colorado to attend college.
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The idea of starting a food delivery service in Seymour was tossed around in recent months after Simpson saw something similar in Colorado.
Nothing really came of those talks until early October.
“Me and Nathan talked about this months ago, and I woke up one day and I was like, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m doing it,’” Broughton said. “I called him and I was like, ‘Are you wanting to do this or what?’ and he’s like, ‘I’ll back you up 100 percent.’”
Broughton created a Facebook page for the business, The Middle Man Food Delivery Service LLC, while Simpson took care of the paperwork associated with starting a business.
With the help of Kim Gonzalez, a website was established and a pamphlet was created to show local businesses as they started networking with them.
“It started off kind of slow. I wasn’t getting any calls back, nothing,” Broughton said.
The Townhouse Cafe was the first business to express interest in using the service, and Broughton shared that news on The Middle Man’s Facebook page.
Now, nearly 20 local restaurants are using the service.
“It’s still in the works,” Broughton said. “I’ve still got a lot of places I’m wanting to get around to, but it’s all in time.”
The service is free for the restaurants. Customers using the food delivery service — homes, businesses and industries — are the only ones who pay.
Through the end of October, the fees were $5 plus 10 percent of the total bill for in-town delivery and $7 plus 10 percent of the bill for out-of-town deliveries.
But this month, The Middle Man is offering a military appreciation special, charging Seymour customers $3.50 plus 10 percent of the bill and out-of-towners $5 plus 10 percent of the bill.
“I think we’re honestly going to end up keeping it like that just because it’s more affordable for everybody,” Broughton said. “It all depends on how this month goes. We may keep those rates.”
The service is offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays.
Orders can be placed online by viewing restaurant menus, selecting items and filling out your name, email address, phone number, delivery address, time of pickup, restaurant name and bill total. The Middle Man will send a bill to your email address, and payment must be received before delivery pickup.
Customers ordering online or over the phone can either pay the restaurant directly or The Middle Man will buy it and deliver it with a single grand charge.
Order minimums are $10 for Seymour delivery and $15 for other locations.
Currently, Broughton and two others use their own vehicles to make deliveries, but he’s looking to hire more drivers. Each Sunday, the drivers let Broughton know what days and times they are available that week.
The Middle Man recently expanded to offer a grocery delivery service. Customers pick the grocery store, create a list of items, including brand, weight, quantity and other notes, pay by invoice and state the delivery time. A Middle Man employee does the shopping and delivers the items.
Light delivery (25 items or less) is $7, standard delivery (25 to 50 items) is $9 and large delivery (50-plus items) is $12. Standard and large delivery requests must be given with an eight-hour notice.
Broughton said food delivery service is huge in bigger cities, and it’s a great way to promote small businesses.
“This is really the future of delivery,” he said. “I try to promote on the Facebook page the small local businesses, getting more money in for them. It’s just growing the community and the small businesses. I think it will really help out.”
Expanding the business to other areas and offering more services may occur down the road, Broughton said.
While he never pictured himself being a business owner, Broughton said it’s something he plans to stick with for a while.
“I would have never in a million years thought I would be doing this,” he said. “This just kind of all came out. I don’t know if it’s from the Marine in me or what, but once I go for something, I go for it 100 percent head first.”
For information on The Middle Man Food Delivery Service LLC, visit themiddlemansquad.wixsite.com/middleman, find the business on Facebook or call 812-216-4797.