Meat+Poultry - July 2020 - 96

S M A L L B U S I N E S S M AT T E R S

Hill Meat Co. makes sausage
and bacon in-house and
sells the products all over
the world.

product," Cheney said. "That way we are
not competing with our customer base and
we all feel that there is a strong partnership
that exists."
The company employs over 100 workers
and its website, hillmeat.com, displays a
complete list of its products, including a
plethora of bacons in varied flavors and
packages, filler-free sausages, hot dogs, hams
and more. But it also includes a 26-minute
video of Cheney telling his personal story of
how far he's progressed over the years under
some very trying circumstances.
"I was born with only one ear," he said. "I
think I might have spent nearly a third of my
first 15 years in hospitals, sometimes for as
long as five months at a time. It wasn't easy, but
those tough times made me a little tougher."

ANTICIPATING CHANGE
Hill Meat Co. has replaced virtually all of its
equipment and systems over the past 10 years,
Nicole said. The company recently purchased its
eighth Repak packaging machine from Reiser -
making it the 1,000th Repak thermoform/fill/seal
packaging machine sold in North America by
the Canton, Mass.-based supplier.
"We are constantly planning what we will
be needing to modernize and have to anticipate
those changes and acquisitions a year or two
ahead. It's a constant thing with us. It's great to
be automated, but it is still the worker in the
plant and the management planning that makes
it happen."
The plant was about 50,000 square feet
in size when Cheney purchased it. In 2018, a
complete plant renovation added about 20,000
square feet of cooler space, which freed up
more space for processing. He thought the
expansion would suffice for a long time but
soon they were juggling things to accommodate

96

MEAT+ POULTRY | 07.20 | www.meatpoultry.com

growth. Now, the company is starting another
20,000-square-foot expansion which should be
finished by the end of the year.
"One thing we need to do is not warehouse
product, but constantly see product in and
product out. We have some departments
that run a few shifts, but the majority of
our operation is done in a single shift. We
are looking at the possibility of going to a
second shift.
"One important thing is that we deal in a
perishable product, but we have a lack of cooldown capacity. That is a major reason for our
large expansion this year," Cheney said.
Hill Meat Co. does private labeling for about
20 companies. There is also a new emphasis on
fresh sausage production that will not require
a smoking step and allows for growth without
taxing the plant's smokehouse capacity.
The company has seen a decline in its
foodservice business during the coronavirus
pandemic. But the firm was proactive in
re-training its employees to follow CDC
recommendations and also implemented a
number of its own procedures - frequent
sanitizing of work areas, limiting the use of
break rooms to fewer workers at a time and
donning and doffing work wear and PPE.
"We also have to give kudos to our Quality
Assurance team who were quick to implement
the protective measures we decided to take
so we could protect our employees and our
product during this crisis," Nicole said.
"Our BRC certification helped give us an
advantage in being somewhat ahead of the
recommendations for COVID-19. We have very
stringent sanitation and quality programs in
place already, which helped us implement the
recommendations seamlessly. Our success is
attributed to a fantastic team of management
and staff and we can't thank them enough."


http://www.hillmeat.com http://www.meatpoultry.com

Meat+Poultry - July 2020

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