I often wonder about the processes used to make things. I'm always curious how someone takes raw materials and creates consumable products - for example, what all needs to happen to get that plastic gallon of milk into your refrigerator? Or, that can of soda? Or, the stack of Post-It notes?
Last month, I hiked almost 500 miles across Florida. I ended my hike in Ocala, FL which is the world headquarters for Country Meats, an advertiser on Boy Scout Trail. It wasn't a coincidence that I hiked to Ocala. I've been wanting to meet Paul, the owner, since we first talked almost two years ago because he seemed like such an honest, hardworking, straight-shooting guy with a passion for his business. In this electronically connected world, we often never meet the people with interact with online. My hope was that I'd be able to tour the Country Meats facility and see if the organization could live up to my high expectations.
When I was on the trail about 100 miles south of Ocala, I texted Paul to let him know I'd be in town in a few days and would like to visit. He said that would be great! So, on a Tuesday afternoon, my friend Sue and her son gave me a ride to Country Meats and joined me for a quick, whirlwind tour. Paul showed us the entire process from receiving an order, through processing raw meat and spices into individually sealed and boxed product, to shipping it out the door. It was amazing! We even got to see the top-secret, "can't photograph this", parts of the process that give them an edge in productivity and efficiency. That was what I enjoyed the most - hearing and seeing how the entire facility was laid out to make the process steps as streamlined and efficient as possible.
There were barrels of spices as big as 50-gallon drums. There were mixers, and stuffers, and cutters, and packagers, and boxers. So much high-tech machinery, I could have spent much more time watching it all. But, there were people, too, doing the parts that required human control.
And, the smell!!! I imagine I might get tired of it after awhile, but the smell of the smoker was wonderful. The smoker runs all night, smoking 45,000 snacks at a time which are then packaged the next day.
You can see one rack here that will be a tasty treat tomorrow morning, after spending the night soaking in flavor and slowly drying. One other thing I found interesting about the production - a USDA inspector stops by often to check that everything is within specs. So, cleanliness, correct heat, and everything that makes a safe product are top priority.
Paul is a sincere, yet very animated, fellow who really loves what he's doing with his business. He has a big, long-term vision for his family-run company, and a plan to make it reality. Everything is based on honest business, good product, employee welfare, and consistent improvement - sounds like a perfect combination to this Business 101 guy. :-) I like to see someone with qualities found in the Scout Law doing well, and I tend to want to support their efforts.
I blogged about Country Meats back in June, 2014 when our relationship was just starting. Since then, Paul and his gang running their operation have seen literally explosive growth! They've distributed 75 million smoked meat sticks through fundraising groups, and the numbers just keep growing.
There's a very good chance that no one is selling their snacks as a fundraiser in your area. If you are looking for a new way to pay for summer camp, trip to Philmont, or new tents, you really should contact CountryMeats.com - you can request a sample and they have a fun patch incentive program for Scouts that you'll see on that linked page. They've got some exotic flavors, some very hot and some smooth and sweet. The Ghost Fire is hot - really hot - honest!
Hey, there's one other way you might get your hands on some COuntry Meats snack sticks - enter my Monthly Give-away and maybe you'll win 2 dozen sticks!
Please send me a comment if you try Country Meats fundraising for your group.
Feb 17, 2016 - Paul Geatches
Thank you for such a nice write up. Visit anytime!
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