Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 80

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

Walke Meat Co. is a
family affair. From left:
John, his wife Michelle, his
daughter-in-law Ashley
and son Lyndon all help
with the business.

80

" We haven't had a problem obtaining
good employees, " he said. " We try to seek out
people with good work habits in an industrial
environment and can teach them the rest. We
all have to have people with good work ethics
and we communicate with all of our staff
daily regarding everything from processing
schedules, regulatory changes, product ideas
and seasonal trends. "
The plant was predominantly a custom
processing house when the Walke brothers
took it over, but John said they put all the
custom work under inspection. He said that
retail, wholesale and private labeling has
expanded, but the main thrust has still been on
custom processing.
By spring of 2021, John, 58, said that the
9,300-square-foot plant will be expanded again,
to over 12,000 square feet and explained that
the retail area of about 900 square feet will
be moved a bit closer to the highway and will
double in size.
In the retail department, customers can find
award-winning (160 local, state and national
awards) hams, bacons, smoked sausages,
snack sticks, jerky, bolognas and wieners, as
well as hand-cut or trimmed chops, roasts
and steaks, and other specialty items made
in-house. The Walke name means made by the
Walke family.

MEAT+ POULTRY | 01.21 | www.meatpoultry.com

So, what's so special about the Walke Meat
Co.? In a word...diversification.
" We still have our custom-under-inspection
trade that represents about 30% of our
volume, " John explained. " With our expansion
we foresee that growing to 60%. We do a large
amount of private labeling, somewhere around
50 accounts, which has also broadened our
further processing of cooked products, and
we learned from that new ways to grow other
aspects of our company.
" When my son Lyndon returned from the
Air Force in 2008, he came back to work with
us and said, 'Dad, we make a lot of bacon for
our custom accounts but don't make any for
our retail customers, " John said. " Well, we
started making our own bacon and now bacon
is king in our shop, in flavor varieties and
in volume. "
John said although they still sell sides and
quarters of beef and pork, the company has put
more emphasis on meat bundles. He feels they
are more economical for customers and have
become more popular and put less strain on an
already busy slaughter schedule. The shop also
offers customers gift cards and does a booming
trade in its smoked products.
" We had moved into the HRI trade very
heavily and successfully, " he said. " Until
two years ago we were pretty satisfied with


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Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - January 2021

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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - vdg - 1
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - marel - 1
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