Way back in the late 1970’s our founder Jerry Geatches had a dream. He wanted to be in the meat business. He retrofit our families barn into a meat cutting operation with his bare hands. Burning the midnight oil he forged a business based on service and fairness. At the start we farm butchered beef and hogs and custom cut and wrapped them for folk’s freezers. It was tuff sledding and not much fun.
As the years ticked by we built our first smoke house. We sugar cured hams and bacons by the ton. As we outgrew our smoker we would build another one always bigger and better than the last.
By end of the 1980’s we were busy all the time. The phone rang around the clock. We hired help and added on the barn four times. Then the game changer for us was when a local FFA chapter asked if we could make some Smoked snack sticks for a fundraiser. We started with three flavors, Country Delight, Ham and pepperoni. Our whole family was involved as we used to put stick-on labels on plastic pouches then the next day we would stuff the finished product into the pouches and vacuum pack them 6 at a time which took about a minute. We were in high production.
It only took about two years for the word to spread in the FFA community that Country Meats was a nice way to raise some money. We started going to as many trade shows as we could afford. We would send out samples in hopes that people would just taste the sticks. Once they knew what we had the handwriting was on the wall that we needed to stop the farm butchering and focus on sticks. So we bit the bullet and signed the loan for a big wrapping machine. If we were going to do this we needed to go big. The machine shipped to us from the Black Forrest of Germany and cost more than our farm!
Fired up the wrapper could package one stick per second! The problem was that we didn’t sell that many in those early days. So for about the next decade we had to grow into our wrapping machine. We worked hard all the time. We added new flavors and new lifelong customers. We always wanted to keep the whole fundraiser super easy and simple. We felt that educators had enough on their plates to have to add more worry with a fundraiser. We have always felt like we are the teacher’s partner. We both had the same goals and still do. To help get the funds that will help pay for the projects and expenses that create lifelong memories for the students. That last sentence made me choke up a little because it was from the deepest part of my heart and it is what we have always been about.
Then the whole Country went into a recession. We had an important decision to make. Do we stay on the farm and hunker down for the storm or do we stand tall and bravely march into the future. We felt the world would always make room for a better product with great service at fair prices so we built a brand new state of the art snack factory about five miles from the farm. We signed a whole bunch of loan papers and decided not to look back. That was 2010. The company has doubled in these last three years and has turned our dream of an awesome facility into a necessity.
We moved in and added another wrapping machine! Bigger and faster than the one from Germany and made in the USA!
In 2016 we are celebrating our 38th year in the meat business. We have shipped over 75 million smoked snacks, all for fundraising. We have added two brand new flavors making the total offered 16 flavors! (That’s a long way from just three.)
We have had our products in thousands of schools and even some of our teachers sold them back when they were students. Today my father enjoys fishing, his motorcycle, his tractor and popping in to the plant to make sure we continue the dream. We bask in the shade of the mighty oak of a business he built from nothing but a dream and we are honored for the opportunity to see how far we can grow.