Meat+Poultry - July 2020 - 95

Western Washington; he was broke and was going to close
his doors unless I came to work for him. He said he couldn't
pay me much, but that in five years he would be retiring.
When the plant was running successfully, he decided he
wasn't going to retire after all.
"Shortly thereafter I received an opportunity to buy 50%
of Hill Meat Co. and moved to Pendleton, Ore. Eight years
later, I bought the remaining 50% of the business and began
running it as my own family operation," he said.
Now 70 years old, Cheney remembers how he found out
after buying into Hill Meat Co. in 1992, that the business was
a few months from going into receivership.
"One of the first things I did was to close the slaughter
operation," he said. "There were a couple of major beef
plants in our region - Washington Beef and an IBP plant -
and I couldn't compete directly with them. I knew that our
facility complemented pork with the sausage kitchen and
smokehouse capacity that it had. Because there are not
enough hogs raised in the Northwest, we put together a
top-notch program with some hog producers and another
independently owned harvesting facility in Iowa who
raise and harvest hogs according to our specifications.
We make sure they have Duroc genetics, are raised on
quality vegetarian feed and are humanely raised in a clean,
comfortable environment. Then we could focus on making
the best bacon, sausage and ham products around."

FAMILY BUSINESS

From left: Tripp Sorensen,
Nicole Sorensen, Jim Cheney,
Caryann Frostad, David
Frostad, Dylan Frostad, Blake
Frostad, Kimberly Sorensen
and Brandon Sorensen.

agenda about getting rid of the man who would have been
satisfied years earlier just picking cherries.
"My partner didn't like me and felt I was unqualified
because I never went to college," Cheney said.
"The analyst told him 'the best thing he could do is to
stay out of it and just let Jim run it,' which infuriated the
man," Cheney said. "Heck, he brought in another consultant
who told him the same thing. I decided it was time for me to
get out and I went into building homes for a few years. Then
I got a call from the owner of a meat processing company in

Another huge step was bringing his family into the business.
Jim has three daughters, Nicole Sorensen, Kim Sorensen
and Caryann Frostad. Nicole is the president and handles
banking and financial matters; Kim serves as office manager;
and Cary is the resident salesperson, while her husband
David runs the processing operation.
"We built a team here," Cheney said. "The value of a
business isn't just the physical plant, it's the management. I
would put our team up against anyone's."
Nicole and her father have served as board members
for the North American Meat Institute. She notes that the
company is not only family operated, but also family owned.
"We are growing by being progressive in doing what
we do well," she said. "We have become a state-of-the-art
company in automation and employees who are a key part
of our team. We know that we can only get out of it what we
put into it."
Hill Meat Co. sells its bacons, hams and smoked meats
from Alaska to the Mexican border, from Korea to Salt Lake
City. Their fleet of trucks delivers most of their product.
The market they've targeted is the distributor system and
foodservice, that serves thousands of stores, restaurants and
foodservice operations.
"We spend heavily promoting our brand in cooperative
advertising with those who actually sell or serve our
www.meatpoultry.com | 07.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

95


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Meat+Poultry - July 2020

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