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Side Hustles: The Bacon Guy

Portrait of Michael May delivery bacon to a home. He stands at the front door and holds a package of bacon.
Michael May’s first taste of smoked, dry-cured bacon set him down a path that led to the founding of Beverly Heights Bacon. Homemade bacon delivered right to your door. What’s not to love?  

First appearing on Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching” list in 2017, the term “side hustle” has evolved to describe the work that someone does for supplementary income. When it first entered the English language, in the 1950s, it was sometimes used to describe scams, but now it is just a fun way to talk about the money you make on the side, selling cookies, driving for a rideshare app, picking up hours at the shop down the road or training llamas to do stunts in action movies (We don’t know. Maybe someone out there does that). 

Here at Mt. Lebanon Magazine, we’re a mostly part-time office and we’ve got our fair share of side hustles among our staff—from freelance designing to working at a library to singing to styling for Stitch Fix. Yes, they’re a nice source of supplementary income, but for those of us who have an “other” side—an artistic side, a bookish side, a fashion-loving side—our side hustles are an outlet for doing those other things that we enjoy.

We figure if we’re doing it, so are our readers. We sought to find some of their stories and the results were as wide-ranging and unexpected and downright interesting as we could have hoped for. Meet some of the local personalities who are out there hustling and bustling. First in a series. 

D

uring the regular workday, Michael May, Seneca Drive, spends his time in hospitals, analyzing perioperative procedures and workflows. During the rest of his time, May says, he “wears an apron and plays with pork!”

May founded Beverly Heights Bacon [1] in 2018, after a friend gave him some homemade dry-cured and smoked bacon, and he tasted his destiny. “I was like, ‘Oh, I should just buy this. Where can I get it?’ But you can’t. You can go to the grocery store, but by and large, everything there is made the same way,” said May.

So he took matters into his own hands. Now, Beverly Heights Bacon offers three standard flavors of bacon, plus seasonal creations, which customers can order online at www.beverlyheightsbacon.com [2], and May delivers the bacon right to their door. He actually has used a lot of the skills that he’s honed over the years as a full-time analyst to build his bacon business.

His motto for his full-time work at Zimmer Biomet, where he works remotely, is to constantly be learning. He feels that in the fast-paced medical technology world, your skills can easily become obsolete. As such, May has earned his MBA, he recently got a master’s in computer science and he’s constantly seeking continuing education opportunities in his field.

“It’s health care. It’s patient care. But it’s not much different than any other business,” said May. “You just have to be sensitive to the fact that these are human beings, not widgets … you can’t treat them all the same. And you realize how hard that is—it is so much harder than making bacon!”

He quickly honed in on the Amazon concept as his business model for his bacon business—easy mobile ordering, leading to quick delivery. He knew he could make his own website, and this would eliminate the need for a brick-and-mortar location.

May also knew he had some friends who would be willing to act as taste testers, while he perfected his new craft.

It all came together when he rented a space in Samantha Sloan’s commercial kitchen in Carnegie, where he makes his bacon on the evenings and weekends. Saturdays are a big day for him: he often starts smoking and curing his bacon around 7:30 a.m., he leaves shortly after that to make deliveries all around the South Hills, then he comes back to take the bacon out of the smokers and package it.

“Yes, it’s work, but I created that,” said May. “You have so many small business owners in and around Mt. Lebanon who work 60, 70 hours a week. But they’re not complaining. It’s their business.”

“When I show up at someone’s front door and the kids are outside and they start screaming, ‘The Bacon Guy is here!’ it’s so much fun,” he said. “Everyone is always happy to see me. No one is ever angry that the bacon guy knocked on their door! You can’t buy that sort of goodwill without bacon.”

May is from Beaver County. He moved here for his wife, Debra, whose three kids started at Markham Elementary School and graduated from the high school. May has been very impressed with how the small business owners in Mt. Lebanon tend to support each other—from collaborating on different projects to sharing each other’s specials on social media. He has also repeatedly said “people are just awesome here.”

“When I show up at someone’s front door and the kids are outside and they start screaming, ‘The Bacon Guy is here!’ it’s so much fun,” he said. “Everyone is always happy to see me. No one is ever angry that the bacon guy knocked on their door! You can’t buy that sort of goodwill without bacon.”

May’s advice: “Be honest with yourself and ask yourself why you want to do this. If it’s more money, recognize that that may not happen for a year or so … If it’s, you just like to do this, there’s a business side to it, so just make sure you want to be doing business.”

Photo by John Schisler