Appetite Grows for JTM Meat, So Harrison Plant Expands, Modernizes to Meet DemandMembership News
Date: Thu, 5 Apr, 2012 at 14:41
There’s nothing small about a daily operation that crumbles up to 125 tons of bulk meat into bite-size pieces, cooks it, drains the fat, then transports the product three stories high across the street for a quick-freeze and storage.
That’s why JTM Food Group is spending $17 million to expand its Harrison plant, the largest investment in the company’s half century of business.
The family-owned company that specializes in kettle-cooked meats and other items for restaurants, groceries and schools is in the midst of a two-year expansion to keep up with growth.
“Our sales grew 6 percent last year to $106 million. That means we have to make $6 million worth of more stuff. This year we expect to grow another 8 percent to $114 million,” says Joe Maas, vice president of operations.
As evidence of its growth, JTM recently acquired the K-12 school food business of Louisville-based RSW Distributors LLC, doing business as Culinary Standards. Financial details weren’t disclosed.
JTM traces its roots to the Delhi Pike butcher shop started by Jack T. Maas in 1960. Today the business is run by Jack’s four sons: Tony, president and CEO; Jack Jr., vice president of sales; Jerry, vice president of business development; and Joe. JTM employs 380 and ranked 71st on the most recent Deloitte Cincinnati list of 100 largest private companies.
Tony Maas says the company hopes eventually to grow its 300,000-square-foot plant to $200 million in sales.
As part of the $17 million expansion, the family spent $5 million last year on a new production line to produce low-fat meat crumbles for chili, sauces, tacos and other items, Tony Maas says.
Production currently is ramping up on that line, spread over two rooms. The automated system takes bulk meat, crumbles it, cooks it and drains the fat in a continuous process with a capacity of 250,000 pounds a day.
“The biggest reason for the crumble line is that it frees up additional capacity in our kettle-cooking operations,” Tony Maas says.
JTM operates two kettle lines where meat, spices and other ingredients are cooked to create its taco meat, sloppy joes, chili and soups. The company produces more than 1 million pounds of kettle-cooked product a week.
It also has a bakery line for hoagie rolls and kaiser buns, and a cooked portion meat line for burgers, hoagies and meatballs.
The addition of the crumble line creates capacity to produce taco filling, pizza sauce and chili. It also will allow JTM to market quick-frozen, 5-pound bags of meat crumbles to customers looking for “quick scratch” ingredients.
“Quick scratch” is the industry term for items such as pre-cooked meat used by restaurants and others to speed up preparation time.
The biggest investment is a $6 million conveyor line to move cooked items from the production area about 540 feet to new freezer facilities across the street. Contractors began assembling the 30-foot high conveyor system last week.
“Right now we have to load the product on a truck and drive it across the street and unload it,” Joe Maas says.
Once items are quick-frozen in a new 3,200-square-foot processing freezer, they’ll move to a freezer warehouse via a new robotic pallet system.
From the desk of Mike Boyer
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