One of the benefits of living in Atlanta is the fact that there is a barbecue restaurant on practically every corner. We've got chains, we've got independent restaurants, we've got sleek, shiny new locations and absolute dives (which usually have the best food, go figure). Everyone you talk to has a different local favorite, and a platter of ribs or Georgia chopped pork seldom disappoints. If you're a barbecue lover, this is the place to be.

While visiting Spartanburg Meat Processing in South Carolina for this issue's cover story, I was struck by two things. One, it was the best smelling plant I've ever visited. With apologies to the other places I've visited in my time with the magazine, but nothing tops the scent of cooked ribs and barbecue sauce.

Two, the company delivers ribs to IKEA. I've shopped there before and think of it mainly as a place with funny-sounding furniture names and almost indecipherable assembly instructions. I've never thought about the store's cafeteria before or who supplies their meat products, but it's become a successful business for Spartanburg Meat.

The beauty of this industry is that there are so many little niches where there is profit to be had, and not all of them are the obvious customers. In spite of the economy, there are new restaurants and cafes opening up in my neighborhood, and some of them would probably love to have access to good, locally produced meats. There are new stores in need of suppliers and neighborhoods in need of good caterers and meat markets.

I think every processor out there should, in 2010, think of something that the company has never before done, and then try to do it. This is the time, while people are shaking the dust of 2009 off their shoes and looking ahead with a little optimism, to try something new. Maybe it doesn't work, but maybe it does, and it leads to a new revenue stream. You never know what the next big thing will be unless you go out and find it.

The Top 75

The third annual Top 75 is coming soon, and as always, we want to have your participation in the report. There is a form on page 23 that you can fill out and fax to (248) 502-9036. You can also fill out a form online at www.provisioneronline.com/independent_processor. It's a great opportunity to showcase your company among your peers, and a chance to share in any good news that your company has had in the past year. I look forward to hearing from you