Welcome to 2023! By this time, you may or may not have already thrown the towel in on your New Year’s Resolutions. If you haven’t, kudos to you!

This past November, I began working on a project researching the growth of SMA’s membership over the past five years. This project developed into something much larger, to the point, I was digging through file cabinets and searching through membership directories dating back to 1957. At this point, my Excel spreadsheet may be able to hold a Guinness Book of World Records title.

What I discovered was the large number of packer and processor members that have shown their commitment to SMA. Some have been with us consecutively for 30, 40, and even 50 years. For a company to still be in business today after 50 years deserves a huge round of applause, not to mention, these companies are primarily independent family-owned businesses.

For nearly 50 years, Morrilton Packing Co., Yoakum Packing Co., and Columbia Packing Co. have relied on SMA to assist with regulatory changes and challenges, sourcing supplies, and finding a networking community.

Columbia Packing 

Columbia means “new beginnings.” That is exactly what Josef Ondrusek was looking for in 1913 when he opened the doors to Columbia Meat Market and Sausage Factory in downtown Dallas. In 1957, Columbia Packing joined SMA (at this time SMA was known as Texas Independent Meat Packers Association). Willie Ondrusek, second-generation businessman of Columbia Packing, served on the TIMPA board of directors. As tradition would have it, his son Bob Ondrusek would later follow in his father’s footsteps and become a two-time SMA Chairman in 1981-82 and 1990-91.

After Bob’s passing and Joe’s retirement, the company was left in the hands of the fourth generation, Amber, Carl, and Rusty Ondrusek. Today, Amber Ondrusek serves as the company’s fourth president. Recently, the company opened a further processing facility in Ennis, Texas.

In the words of the late Josef Ondrusek, “Business goes where it’s invited and stays where it’s well treated.” I surely hope that the Ondrusek family always feels invited and well-treated by SMA members and staff.

This year marks 100 years the Ondrusek family has been in the meat industry.

Morrilton Packing Co. 

The legacy of Morrilton Packing Co. started in the late 1920’s in Morrilton, Ark. It is true dedication and hard work that has kept Morrilton Packing Co. thriving as a family-owned business for nearly 100 years. During the company’s lifetime, it has endured multiple facility fires, the Great Depression, and the challenges of losing its workforce to World War II. Through various hardships, Morrilton Packing has successfully expanded its production facility. Today, Morrilton Packing is famously known for its bacon, smoked sausage, hot dogs, deli meats, and ham products under the Petit Jean brand. Records indicate Morrilton Packing Co. joined SMA in 1976. It wasn’t long before the company became immersed in the SMA culture. David Ruff, Ed’s father and third-generation president of the company, served as SMA chairman twice, in 1998-99 and 2010-11.

Ed Ruff, fourth-generation president of Morrilton Packing Co. and past SMA chairman (2020-21), praised his company’s commitment to SMA by stating, “I firmly believe that anyone entering the meat business, when they look back on their first five years of operations and their success, having been a member of SMA will be in their top three things they did that made them successful.”

Morrilton Packing Co. is still owned by the same family and is, in fact, the only privately owned processor of red meats left in Arkansas.  

Yoakum Packing Co. 

In 1947, E.W. Pietsch opened a processing facility in downtown Yoakum, Texas. Today, the company is known as Yoakum Packing Co. and produces products under the brand Farm Pac. Now the company is operated by E. W’s granddaughter, Sherri Kusak, her husband Glen Kusak, and son Tyler Kusak. Farm Pac is famously known for its smoked turkey legs. If you have ever enjoyed a juicy turkey leg at a state fair, amusement park, or festival, there is a good chance it was smoked in Yoakum, Texas. In addition to smoked turkey legs, Farm Pac also produces bacon, sausage, smoked tenderloins, hams, and many more smoked products.

Glen and Tyler Kusak are another father & son duo who show their leadership skills in SMA. Glen served as SMA chairman in 1997-98 and 2006-07, as well as a member of SMA’s Foundation Board of Trustees. Tyler Kusak will become SMA’s chairman of the board in July 2024.

In 2023, SMA is honored to have over 75% independent family-owned businesses within our membership. It is a privilege building a legacy with legacy members.