#51: Jim Ondrusek – VP of Fresh Pork at Pederson’s Farms
Jim Ondrusek Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Well, here we are. The day has come. We’ve got Mr. Jim Ondrusek on the show, heavy on the Mr. This guy is a friend, a brother, a mentor, all those things to me, this company, and he happens to be our VP of fresh pork. And that’s, well, I just want you guys to all get to meet him, know him. Hi, everybody out on YouTube. We were having lunch prior to this, and he’s like you always say hi to everybody on YouTube, but what about the listeners on Spotify and Apple and Stitcher and Deezer, everywhere else? You just don’t care about them? So, hi to all of you ladies and gentlemen too. I do care about you. We’re really glad you’re here learning about where your food comes from and being a part of our, I call it the PNFer family. So, Jim, you’ve got to tell everybody a little bit about who you are, where you came from, some of that history. And I mean, you got like, what is it, 40 years in the meat business?
Jim Ondrusek: Working on 46.
Neil Dudley: 46. So that gets to be a really dynamic, interesting, intricate story. Since we’re only going to do this for about 30 minutes, put that into three or four minutes if you can.
Jim Ondrusek: Sure. And thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure. So, I was born into the meat business. My family owned a multispecies packing house that next year will be 110 years old. It’s still around. One of the ways Neil and I connect and Cody connect is I was raised by a cowboy also. It’s what my dad did. So, he did it for the meat business; he bought cattle. And so, I spent my time, early childhood going to sales with him and farms and more than one time got on the back of a horse in a feedlot and rode with the cowboys while he was doing business, so we kind of connect like that. I started in the meat business full time at 17 years old. I was at my family’s company for 35 years. I ran a- and a multispecies company, so I’m proficient in beef, pork, lamb from a hands-on experience. And first job I had in the packing house was packing chili in a tin tray, all the way up to running the plant and then eventually running the whole business. So, it’s invaluable experience to get all the different aspects in. And I ran a little sausage company for a friend of mine for a couple of years before I came to Pederson’s. The Pederson’s story is really interesting because my dad and I were meat consultants somewhat to the prior management before Cody and Neil and back in the early days my son Chad took over. And so that just continued. So, we’ve known each other, we’ve been family. These guys were great when they started, they’re really good now, but when they started, they were great business guys. Meat sometimes was where they were having to catch up on. So, I filled in a lot with that knowledge and helped make products for Petersons. So, eight years ago, I actually came to work for Pederson’s and it was like coming home, we just all fit in together.
Neil Dudley: We were so closely kind of tied, through SMA, through using Colombia to make hams, through Chad, really Kathy, Nathan, your whole family. It was kind of just an easy thing to do. And everybody that has a business, runs a business, or works for a business knows there’s negotiation in all that too. You can’t come to work for free. You’ve got to get compensated for your skill set and the things you do. So, it just took a little while for us to get it all sorted and jump off and go. And since then, it’s just kind of been like jet fuel. We started the fresh pork program, we started raising pigs. Now you got a pretty big task on your hands weekly with that group of pigs that are going to harvest and then all those parts and pieces need to go somewhere. What’s fun about Jim is that we just kind of get along really good. We’re a lot alike, we both really enjoy the people. So, when we get sat down for lunch, we have all kinds of fun conversation just between ourselves. I got to share another piece of that. We just shipped – what did you say? – our first container load to China.
Jim Ondrusek: Of feet to China.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, there you go. And I like how Jim won’t let me get away without making sure you know its feet. Because that’s super important. It’s super real how you really respect that animal’s life by spending the resources and time finding that customer, putting that load together, and sending this part, this product to a place where we know it’s going to get used. And it’s not just going to rendering. Although I say just rendering, rendering plays a really big role in lots of things as well. So, we just as a company really want to make sure we’re holding ourselves accountable and our business partners and our consumers and customers to understanding when an animal gives its life around here, we care about that.
Jim Ondrusek: Yeah, it’s part of you don’t want to discard any of it. You want it to use for the purpose of the what the animal was raised for. The animal was raised for food and other byproducts. And you want as much of that animal to go to that purpose as possible, so you didn’t waste or diminish the life of that animal. It also gets into the realm of sustainability, using all of- because you use a lot of resources raising that pig. You use feed, you use water. Well, the more of it you can respect in that area, the more sustainable you are.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. If you’re going to jump off the cliff and do some of the things that we do to set ourselves apart and because that’s what we believe in, there are some added costs there. So, capturing that back and keeping a business together that can make some money, which is the only way businesses stay in business, unless they’re nonprofit or have some kind of infinite wealth behind them that just doesn’t care about losing all of that, you have to make money. That is that huge piece of sustainability that I’m pretty sure everybody inherently knows, but sometimes and in some situations, might feel like it isn’t really- that it might be going a little too far, like we’re making too much money. Or I would say, in my 20 years, I’ve never experienced vacations in Cabo monthly. The animal agriculture business is not just super flush with profits all over the place.
Jim Ondrusek: Well, and the simple fact that it goes on day in and day out. You can’t vacation a lot because you’ve got animals that need taking care of. I mean, it’s just- so if you vacation, somebody’s got to do it.
Neil Dudley: Now, you’d be a great guy to ask this to, and maybe the audience can get some insight from you. You hear, even I hear this at the coffee shop or around other farmers and ranchers, all the packers are all just making money hand over fist, and they’ve got us all over a barrel because they dictate what the prices are. As price takers, farmers and ranchers really feel susceptible to that. Is that true?
Jim Ondrusek: In my opinion, no. It is a very big cycle. Over a period of time, you’ll have times when farmers are raking it in and doing really well raising the animals. And you’ll have time when packers are doing well and maybe the farmer is not. The consumer is not being fooled. They’re being sold good products at an honest price, for the most part, because we need the consumer. We all need each other. It’s a cycle. One of the things that is going on lately, there’s been a lot of, probably seen it in the news, lawsuits, price fixing lawsuits, poultry companies, pork companies, whatnot. And none of them have ruled- none of them have lost those lawsuits because there’s not much fact behind it.
Neil Dudley: Well, we’re still in a capitalist country. So, the consumer drives the engine, I mean, by voting with their dollars in the places that they can, want to, feel compelled to for whatever reason. That’s what drives the engine. And also, companies that are trying to stay alive, grow, do those things, price fixing doesn’t support that necessarily because there’s always going to be somebody who isn’t the price fixing game who is over there getting all the business because they are just doing what they have to to keep driving their business forward. And that’s such a complicated and dynamic, this whole thing. That’s why we have to have so many conversations on this podcast to even begin to paint the picture of where your food comes from and the industry that drives it. It scares me, it’s sad to me that there is one consumer, I think, the number’s a lot bigger than one these days, that doesn’t trust our industry. Because I find it super trustworthy, the people, the companies. But somehow that perception has infiltrated our culture. And it scares me. I don’t like it. I don’t know how to unravel it. This is one way. This is us kind of throwing our hat in the ring and saying, here you go. So now we’re going to give you the information. Maybe you don’t agree with all of it. Maybe we’re not perfect. It’s not even maybe – we’re absolutely not perfect. What do you think about that? Do you think I’m exaggerating that perspective in our culture and within people?
Jim Ondrusek: No, I don’t. But back on the price fixing portion of this, or any dishonesty, I understand the meat industry has a bad history going back to the early days. And we’ve fought for years to overcome that. What the average person doesn’t realize-
Neil Dudley: Hold on though, what was the bad history? Because I don’t really-
Jim Ondrusek: You go back to when there wasn’t refrigeration, and you hear the things that they scraped stuff off the floor, and the labor was terrible. People worked hard, and this is hard work, people worked hard and didn’t make any money, just developed, and then I’m going back to 1920s, 30s. So we had to overcome that. I think the key to this that the average person doesn’t know, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve run across people that are doing something, whether it’s downright crooked or just a little off, they don’t last long. We police our own. They’ll do something wrong, and they’ll make that one sale, or they’ll make that one deal or something, and then we don’t trust them. And then we won’t deal with them. And next thing you know, they’re gone. So, I think that’s an important part of building trust that people don’t realize and don’t see.
Neil Dudley: Well, I think there’s just the availability of information with the internet, documentaries, that all have a bias. I mean, this podcast, though I’m fighting hard to make it unbiased – it’s not a Pederson’s commercial, I don’t want it to be. I want it to be a transparent look into the industry. But it’s inherently biased because it’s coming from my connections, people I know. So, there’s really no way in my mind to just really make it all straight out as perfectly equal, even from all sides. We’re trying, and I think it’s a good try we’re making. But the documentaries I mean, it cracks me up, you can go on the internet and almost hear a valid, good argument from an intelligent human being for everything. So, meat’s good; meat’s bad. Vegetarian is the only way to get healthy; red meat only is the only way to get healthy. So how does somebody sort through all of that and come up with their own understanding and something they feel is trustworthy or feel good about? I hope they find Pederson’s and say, okay, cool, here’s somebody that’s going to own their mistakes, because we have them, who’s going to also answer my questions when I have them, and just do the right thing very consistently, 100% of the time. That’s hard to say; we’re humans. But we really stand behind what we do, and I think that’s one reason we’ve been able to stay in business for 30 years or something.
Jim Ondrusek: I think one of the keys there is intelligent people. And there are so many avenues with social media and the internet and all to investigate. And I think that you’ve got to find an even keel and use common sense. Because when I was a young person, they called what you saw on the news or in the newspaper or something reporting. And it was not 100% unbiased, but it was actual reporting facts. And we all realize now that you get biased and whatever. And podcasts like this are a good thing. Because we get on here, and I mean, there’s no hiding anything in this day of social media, in the day of the internet. I mean, it’s just out there. So, you promote, why not tell people, okay, this is the way it is? And if you have an interesting question, we would like to help answer that question. Robin’s been on here before, and she handles all those questions. And I’d guess, half a dozen times a month, I’ll get a question from Robin saying, hey, I don’t know this answer. It’ll have to do with the live side or production or something. But it’s things like that – really seek out, ask, study what you’re doubting, ask, take everything with a grain of salt, and just use good old common sense to figure it out. A lot of times the stuff you see just doesn’t make total sense.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, I mean, trust is such a fickle thing. Like the second you lose it, like you said, it’s been years trying to build it back. And we still probably have years in front of us because there’s always a little thing that’ll come up. And then you have communities, one example or I think about it like this, I grew up on a ranch where we raised animals that I saw get born, grown up, and I ate. So, I have that rare, unique relationship with it. Not many people have that. You have it. But as a percentage of the population, we’re so, so small that really have that understanding and relationship with what we do. Well, when I say what we do, I just mean making bacon, sausage, ham, raising animals for food, that kind of thing. Somebody without that understanding could easily buy into that’s not trustworthy. Okay, cool, there’s that example of, I’m not even going to pick any one of these big multinational companies names, but putting some ingredient in there that we’ve learned now, years later, is highly addictive and being perceived as oh, well, that’s what they’re doing. They’re getting us all addicted to this stuff, so they get to keep making their billion-dollar revenues. So, I don’t know, I think I’m just kind of rambling on that a little bit because I want the listeners to think about it. And I hope this conversation just has them sitting in the recliner someday watching the news or TV or some documentary and saying, okay cool, well, now I’ve got another way of thinking about this that might be counter to what I’m being told here. All right, so I’m curious, I’d love you to give everybody that spiel, that pitch you so do so well. What makes our pork good, better, different than the next guys?
Jim Ondrusek: Okay, first of all, don’t worry too much about the next guy. We concentrate on what’s right and what the consumer wants. We have competition that does some things completely different than us. We have competition that does things very similar. It’s not about that. It’s about doing what’s right and doing it all the time. And we take care of ourself and not worry so much about what other people are doing.
Neil Dudley: Man, that’s great. I want to say yeehaw because that’s great business direction advice right there.
Jim Ondrusek: So, it all starts with the breed, and we use Duroc boars because duroc has a great meat quality, marbling and it’ll make juicy, great eating pork. So, just kind of a side note on that, people, you don’t have to cook pork until it’s all dried out anymore. The USDA changed the regulation to internal temperature of 145. It’ll give you juicy pork, just like a nice beef steak cooked medium rare. It can be a little pink on the inside. The high temperature was from trichinella. We hadn’t had a case of trichinella since the 1950s in the United States. So, it’s an outdated regulation that never got changed. You want to enjoy your pork better, cook it correctly.
Neil Dudley: Right. Don’t overcook it. I mean, it’s what’s given pork chops kind of a bad name, a bad rap. They hard to enjoy when they’re super dry and tough. So that is a great thing to bring up. Internal 145. And that means you need to take it off the grill before it hits 145. You need to get it off the heat prior to that because it’s going to keep going up as you let it rest.
Jim Ondrusek: And remember, the most important tool in your kitchen is a meat thermometer. That’s the most- if you had one tool, that’s what it should be. We put those Duroc boars on large white or landrace or a cross of those two. Their quality is really good. But they’re good mothers. Duroc pigs are not necessarily good mothers. The sows we use have- They tend to have more pigs. They tend to raise healthier pigs. So, we’re combining two give the combination of, the best combination of both worlds. Now you’ll see some Berkshire out there, you’ll see some purebred Duroc. There’s nothing wrong with those. They’re still good pork. We just think, going back to concentrate on what we do, we think this gives us the best combination of both worlds.
Neil Dudley: You hear this word heritage, breed, pork thrown around a lot. Why? I mean, what is that? I mean, do you know the answer? I’m in the business. I mean, I would say I’m a super engaged, plugged-in member of this industry, and I don’t think I know that answer very good.
Jim Ondrusek: Neil, I’m not sure I do either, but I’ll give you my thought on it. And that’s what this is. And it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with pigs, horses, cows, whatever. If you go years back, there were just four or five breeds. And they were accepted. That’s what I call heritage, the old-time breed. Over time, for different reasons, we’ve crossed those together and made what would be known as another purebred. And that animal, over time, was recognized by somebody, some association or something, as purebred. But they don’t go back to the original four or five handful that were actually heritage breeds. So, in my opinion, heritage breeds are great. They’ve all got their strong points and weak points. Over time, by crossing those breeds and whatnot, we’ve actually improved our product by taking the good out of several different ones. And my dad was a cattle buyer. And this makes sense to you more than anybody else. He fell in love with every old tiger striped cow he ran across. And the reason is they’re generally some kind of three way cross, and he was always big on you get the best out of all three worlds.
Neil Dudley: And those tiger striped cows, they’ll have babies for about 20 years or something. I mean, all of those things, that’s where your food comes from. Farmers, ranchers trying to find a way to make a living, to dig it up out of the dirt, to have a better mama pig, a better end product. I think at times, we swing this pendulum, one way we’re trying to get efficient, and we lose sight a little bit of the product experience, then we swing back. And it’s like every business I feel like has that pendulum rocking back and forth all the time. So that’s just probably something to understand as a consumer. This industry is always working to do better, and sometimes it might not- it’s not always perfect at finding what really better for the consumer is.
Jim Ondrusek: I think another key that makes Pederson’s pork good, and when I say that again, and I’ve probably beat this to death, I say what’s good about our product, it is not saying I’m running anybody else’s down because there’s a lot of people out there that do it that may just have a little different twitch or a little different opinion than we do, but doesn’t mean it’s not good or just as good. Personally, I tend to believe it’s not better, but it could be equal to. One of the things we do, and it fits into the whole picture, is average wean day. So weaning is when you take the baby off the mama, the average wean day for a pig is 18 to 22 days is how long they’d stay on their mother. We don’t wean a pig until they are at least 28 days old. That makes a lot of difference in the health of the pig you start with, the size of the pig you start with, the quality of the pig you start with. Everything is just better. Because mama took care of them. Neil, you love your mama taking care of you today. It is just better.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, that’s right. You can see it in humans. A kid that was loved on, took care of by their mom, early on, that’s a good start for them to thrive and just grown on up and do well.
Jim Ondrusek: Another very important part of it is, as you know, I’ve heard it 100 times on your podcast, your listeners should know, Pederson’s uses no antibiotics or hormones. At all. Well, if you start with a healthier, bigger, stronger, better pig, the need for antibiotics is way less. And one of the questions I get asked often is, what do we do if we get one sick? Well, we’re not inhumane. And we don’t want antibiotics in our food, but face it, for the humane treatment of animals, at times, they’re necessary. So, if we get an animal that’s sick, and we can’t fix it by changing its feed, pulling it out of the herd, or things like that, then we will pull it out of the herd and treat it with antibiotics so that that pig is sustained and not just lost. It’s just a fact that has to happen to be 100%. We’re 100% antibiotic free in the pigs we sell. But for- it’s only a couple of percent. And it’s seasonal. We have a little harder time in the winter. Sometimes in the summer, you get some pneumonia going on because of the heat and the dust. But for the most part, it’s the most humane way to treat that animal. Other than let it sit in there with the rest of them and suffer until it dies. So, then you’ve got all the things that I think combine to make quality in the fact that, people, we really do have space requirements. Most of our barns are long barns with dividers in them. And as the pigs in that group get bigger, you remove a divider and give them more room. You just keep expanding and keep expanding, so they’ve got the proper room to move around. And pigs are very smart animals. And I know a lot of people don’t realize it, but they’re super intelligent. And they can be human like. A pig will use the restroom in one area, he’ll eat in one area, and he’ll rest and play in another area. Not much different than you do at home. So, if you’ve got them all crammed in there together, you take that choice away from them. If you give them enough room, and that’s what they’ll do. I think all of that stuff as far as the live side goes into making quality Pederson’s pork.
Neil Dudley: How do you answer a consumer that says, oh well, I thought all your pigs just lived outside in a pasture where they can eat grass and are pasture raised? What do you say to somebody like that?
Jim Ondrusek: Well, my first answer that came to my head was, hey, call Neil, here’s his mother. No, that was just kidding around a little bit. There’s good and there’s bad to outdoor. Outdoor exposes you to a lot more disease and a lot more predators. Right now, a lot of you have heard of the stuff going on with poultry and having to- well, that’s from the wild birds migrating and over and dropping and it gets in the poultry flock and whatnot. So, we can also somewhat control their climate. If pigs are comfortable, they’re happy. The outdoor deal, I mean, it is what it is. But if they’re happy, and if we’ve got them in a barn, we cool those barns, we heat the barns. We control the humidity. So, we make happy, comfortable pigs. Another one that people don’t realize is well, they should be outside, they should be outside. You get white pigs, light colored pigs, they sunburn just like you do if you go to the beach with no block on. So, there’s some good stuff to outdoor access. There is also some not so good stuff.
Neil Dudley: I’ve said it like this: We are doing our very best to move as much production from gestation crates, farrowing crates, some of this real limited space, commercial thought process. It’s not throwing shade on them, but it’s not the way I want to do it.
Jim Ondrusek: Well, we’re not done our best, we’re doing that.
Neil Dudley: So, the next part of that sentence is to get as much from that to barns, pen gestation, farrowing pens, this system that we do. Is it GAP step five plus like Will Harris over at White Oak Pastures does? No. There has to be some willingness and allowance for some of this transition. And for some people, it is happening as fast as they want. For some, it’s not happening fast enough. And others are kind of trying to hold it back. Change scares everybody, especially farmers, because it’s this thing they’ve done, they know what to expect. And I’m even kind of wanting to retract that statement. I don’t know if change scares them. They just have to see how it plays for their livelihood.
Jim Ondrusek: Find the value in change.
Neil Dudley: Find the value in change and really buy into it and believe it. Most farmers are all business owners, and trying to tell them what they should and shouldn’t do doesn’t always go over great without a lot of time for them to think about it, get educated, and feel comfortable with it.
Jim Ondrusek: Well, and farmers and ranchers, they get a bad rap sometimes because, honestly, they’ve filmed somebody doing something they shouldn’t- I don’t care what business you’re in, what you’re doing, what segment of life you’re in, there’s some people that may not be doing it as honestly and ethically as they could. So, I’ll admit, there’s some of that out there. And one bad video or something like that gets way more attention than 100,000 good ones.
Neil Dudley: It makes me so sad because it makes- I know it makes people in the industry, specifically farmers, scared to let people come just see what they do.
Jim Ondrusek: Which hurts the trust people have in it.
Neil Dudley: Everybody immediately says well, okay, cool, I want to come out and see what you got. Well, no, we can’t. I mean, we’re not letting people on the farm. What are you hiding?
Jim Ondrusek: Part of that fits into the statement you made a while ago about bias. So, you let somebody on there that’s bias, then they edit this video that’s perfectly fine and make it fit their point. That’s why we do this. We’re being as open and honest, and if you’ve got a question to ask us, because we try not be biased, but we’re big fans of Pederson’s obviously.
Neil Dudley: Well, somebody was talking about getting to visit a pig farm and all the shower in and shower out. They’re just talking about it like it was the craziest experience, which it is unique. I mean, it’s kind of counterintuitive, or if you aren’t familiar with the industry, that feels like why, what is all this about? Once you’re in the industry and you’ve asked that question in a safe environment, where everybody there’s like, okay, cool, we’re all on the same team, nobody’s after me, you just learn it’s really protection for the animals. Because at the end of the day, those animals are the thing we make our living by, and any risk we send in there to get that herd sick or to compromise that biosecurity is directly- is like just the stock market crashing.
Jim Ondrusek: And it goes back to what you said. There’s a lot of that that is totally out of our control when we’ve got pigs outdoors. A bird can fly over and drop something that’s contaminated. And then you’re- But I think an important part people don’t really get is farmers and ranchers are families. We hear about the big corporate farms and whatnot, and they are, but a lot of those are owned by a big corporation, but they contract families to raise it. So that farmer has to take care of his animals and make sure they’re treated right and whatnot to feed his family. There’s no incentive to not do it that way. So, and then the whole biosecurity thing, it’s a necessary pain. Because I mean, you go into a farm, you get ready to go out – in the office, you’re okay. You get ready to go out onto the farm, and you totally shower. I mean, wash hair. They give you the soaps and stuff they want you to use. This is not a relaxing shower. You get out, you dry off, you put on their clothes. You go visit the farm. You do the exact same coming out. Most of the clothes are throwaway clothes. They never leave the dirty side. So, it’s just- and then even something as far as when we get ready to ship the pigs and the trucks come in. We’ve got a massive amount of requirements for how the trucks are washed. Has it hauled anything else? Most of them, if not all of them, nowadays get baked. So, they’ll pull this truck into this- an 18-wheeler into this big barn, and they cook it to a certain temperature just to make sure everything is dead before they go pick up the pigs. So, that’s all part of the story. And it’s even all that more important when you’re raising antibiotic free.
Neil Dudley: And as a consumer, getting a little bit of that insight makes me say, wow, they are sterilizing the tractor trailer before they haul these pigs from one place to the next. That seems excessive. But that’s how we ensure safe quality food in this country. Somebody mentioned to me the other day, we take for granted we can just go to the grocery store, pick up the food, and it’s going to be safe to eat. There are places in the world that is not guaranteed. You don’t just have that safe feeling. Now, is it going to be the kind of nutrition you want? Is it going to be processed minimally, those kinds of things? No, potentially no, depending on what you choose to pick up, but it will be safe. It’s not going to make you sick. And that’s what the USDA helps us ensure, that’s what we hold ourselves to, that standard. That’s why you’re getting trailers sterilized before they go pick up a load of pigs.
Jim Ondrusek: And the USDA does a good job. We don’t have much problem with them because we’re doing it right from the start. Our standards are higher than what the USDA requires. And honestly most packers are. And so, it’s a very good thing.
Neil Dudley: Well, I just looked at the clock. We’ve been talking for 40 minutes already.
Jim Ondrusek: That’s not unusual for us.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. We could go on for another hour. I don’t want to put an episode out that’s super lengthy. If you have questions, there are people all over this company that will feed those questions to the right people. So just contact us on our website, contact us on Instagram, Facebook, leave a comment on this YouTube channel if that happens to be where you’re watching it. Or if you’re on Apple Podcasts, I know you can leave a review, type in what you thought, any of those things. That’s a great way to ask us questions, get in touch with us. I kind of want to plug this first Wednesday of every month we do a live stream with guests from- our last one was a guy named Dan Venteicher. He is a dairyman that is really just being so transparent with his content out there on social. He’s showing his cows having surgery and having babies and artificially inseminating them, just everything that you will find people that are uneducated seem to want to attack, like you’re raping the cows or you’re stealing their baby away from them. That’s the dairy industry. There are similar things in the pig industry. We want to try our very best to just answer those questions. And the facts are, if you just flat want to put us out of business because you hate the idea that we raise animals for food, that’s okay, too. You have that right to feel that way about it. We’d love to tell you what we do as openly and transparently as we can and see if there might be a piece of your current understanding that might not be just exactly right. What do you think about that?
Jim Ondrusek: You’re right. Last thing I’d like to inject in, because probably the next question you’re going to ask is do you have anything else?
Neil Dudley: Yeah, yeah, you’re out in front of me.
Jim Ondrusek: I think the key to me is people and loving people. So, Pederson’s loves people. We love to see people taken care of. We love to see him happy. We treat them fair. Pederson’s – now I might be making a commercial – is a huge family. My opinion is, great companies tend to have great leadership, which tends to have great employees. But at the same time, great employees make great leadership that makes great companies. So, it’s an open book. There’s not one person here at Pederson’s that’s any more important than the other. I know some of your other guests I’m just in awe of. You had Alejandro; the first week he was here, I had to do some work in the plant and he was given to help me. I mean, they’re just great people. You can learn something from everybody. We’ve learned tons from consumers. And it’s just keep learning, use common sense, love people, and you’ll do fine.
Neil Dudley: I don’t guess you could put it any better than that. That’s perfect. Listen, if this is the first episode or even if it’s the second or something, I think it’d be really fun for you just go back and listen to all these employee episodes. It gives you a very, I don’t know. I mean, I think you could kind of want to call me or just call BS on that because it’s hard to know that everybody that comes on this show is totally welcome, capable, able to say what’s on their mind. Nobody is going to get fired if they say, Neil, I don’t like how you do this thing. I mean, we have to have that kind of transparency, trust, or even vulnerability within our organization, so somebody can say that thing without some kind of hammer falling and them just jumping back in line, do what you’re told. We’ve not been successful that way. I would argue most any company can’t stay sustainably long term successful if you don’t leverage those talents of the super awesome people that are in your organization.
Jim Ondrusek: Well, and one thing your listeners may not realize, and they’re going to have to trust me to believe this fact, this is not coached. There is no script. Neil and I had lunch together and had no conversation about- we’re too busy talking about other things to have a conversation about what we’re going to do on the podcast. It’s not unusual for Neil to go out in the plant and say, hey, will you come to my office in an hour? I need a podcast guest. And that’s it. So, what you see is what you get.
Neil Dudley: It’s not rehearsed. And thanks for being here. Shucks, we’ve taken a lot of your time. Your time is not free. Come back if you enjoyed it. Ask us questions if you have them. I hope you’re here to hear the next episode. Have a good one.
(1:19) – Jim’s Background
(4:53) – Using the whole animal
(8:28) – Thoughts on Price Fixing in the meat industry & becoming a trustworthy vendor
(18:29) – What makes Pederson’s Pork the best?
(28:42) – Why aren’t our pigs pasture-raised?
(38:03) – Final thoughts
The Pederson’s Farms Podcast is produced by Johnny Podcasts & Root and Roam.