One lesson many learned during the COVID-19 pandemic was just how important the food production supply chain can be. And while many faced a meat shortage in 2020, one business in Ord, Nebraska, found the opportunity to grow.
Ace and Jessica VanDeWalle and Ida VenDe Walle purchased the Ord Locker, a custom meat processing facility, in 2015. In 2020, after five years in the making and a $2.5 million investment, they moved their operations into a new facility. And business is booming.
The new facility has a significantly greater capacity to process and produce more livestock and value-added products. In just the first 12 months of operation in the new facility, they expect gross sales to surpass their three-year projections. They now have 12 full-time and four part-time employees, more than double their previous staffing level.
In an era where many hometown lockers are closing in rural America, the VanDeWalle’s see their position in the local economy as vital. But their vision doesn’t stop locally. They hope to soon pursue USDA certification and broaden their customer base by having their product in multiple locations like grocery stores.
“Our local economy was bolstered throughout the entire expansion project from the utilization of local contractors to the creation of quality jobs,” said Christina Foth, Interim Executive Director of Valley County Economic Development and the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our region will certainly reap the benefits of what’s to come from the Ord Locker’s offerings for consumers and ag producers.”
Nicole Sedlacek, NPPD Economic Development Manager said, “The Ord Locker story is a success story on several levels. It’s a story of successful succession planning, Ord’s low-interest sales tax loan program, personal ingenuity and perseverance.”
Ord is a municipal wholesale customer of NPPD.