Link’s losing some jobs, adding more in MinongGlobal jerky giant Jack Link’s continues to be one of the fastest-growing snack food companies in the U.S, and that growth is fueling some changes at its corporate headquarters in Minong.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Global jerky giant Jack Link’s continues to be one of the fastest-growing snack food companies in the U.S, and that growth is fueling some changes at its corporate headquarters in Minong.
Company officials said this week that 23 customer service, logistics and purchasing positions currently in Minong will soon move to Underwood, Iowa — one of the company’s two giant Iowa warehousing facilities that receive and re-ship every piece of jerky the company makes in America.
But as those positions leave northwestern Wisconsin, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky also is well into a major expansion in Minong that’s adding more than 70 new jobs.
The expansion project last November received a $365,000 federal grant, through the state of Wisconsin and village of Minong, to help with road and utility expansion for the 7,000-square-foot addition, including a new smokehouse and processing center.
Preliminary work on that project, including a new street and sewage upgrades, has already begun, said Nancy Knutson, a Jack Link’s spokeswoman.
John Hermeier, the company’s chief financial officer, said the company’s employment in Minong would be greater than previously announced when the expansion is finished.
“I’d say we’re already up to about 300 in production and 100 in the corporate office here in Minong. We’ve been growing all along and we’re going to be growing even more when we get this expansion open, probably about October,’’ Hermeier told the News Tribune. “It will be beyond the 70 jobs we pledged last fall.”
Hermeier said the 23 employees involved in the relocation were notified June 1 and have been offered the choice to move to Iowa or possibly move into a new position as the Minong operations expand.
“This is tough for them. But our hope is we will have (new positions) opening up for some of those who don’t make the move,’’ he said.
Jack Link’s also has a facility in New Glarus, Wis., that has more than 300 employees and an office with about two dozen employees in Minneapolis. The company has warehousing operations in Laurens and Underwood, Iowa, and additional production facilities in Alpena, S.D., and Mankato, Minn., as well as facilities in Brazil and New Zealand. The company claims to be the “U.S. meat snack category leader and fastest-growing meat snack manufacturer worldwide,’’ with sales in more than 40 nations.
“We’re over 3,000 employees now,’’ Hermeier said. The company is family-owned and doesn’t reveal sales or profit figures, but Hermeier said it’s “safe to say our (annual) sales are well north of $500 million.’’
Much of the company’s growth is attributed to an aggressive TV marketing campaign over the last six years, especially a series of commercials that revolve around the mythical Sasquatch ape-man. Since that campaign began, Hermeier said, Jack Link’s share of the U.S. jerky market increased from 25 percent to 60 percent, jumping well beyond more-established jerky brands.
Hermeier said that Minong will continue to be the company’s corporate offices “probably as long as (company founder) Jack and (company president) Troy Link are involved, and Troy is a young man,’’ Hermeier said.
The Link family history of meat marketing in Minong dates back four generations to the arrival of Jack’s great-grandfather, Chris, in the 1880s. A family-operated slaughterhouse in Minong closed in the 1980s.
In 1987 Jack Link started the company “selling Jack Link’s Jerky out of the back of my truck from one mom-and-pop store to the next,” the website notes.