Carnivore's colony

by Steve Krut
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Small Biz
Amana's mail-order business makes up 40 percent of its total volume.
 

Increasing business

Now if you can imagine such a volume of daily store traffic, give thought to the bigger end of the package...Amana’s mail-order business.

In the late 1990’s, the Amana Society began developing a gift box program highlighting their meats and some specialties like horseradish mustard and other local condiments. They originally offered seven varieties of gift boxes.

As internet traffic and its catalog evolved over the years, Amana’s mail-order business roared into cruising gear and now represents nearly 40 percent of the establishment’s total volume. It’s virtually impossible to take a quick peek at their website, amanameatshop.com. Just click on the colorful downloadable catalog and the appetite booms over the colorful products displayed and the immense variety of offerings. No one can look at just one page.

Amana operates under federal inspection and focuses heavily on the retail area. They serve a few foodservice operators in the local community with a population of about 2,000.

With stupendous growth in its mail-order business, Amana has its share of challenges associated with meeting the increasing demand.

“We target our production for catalog and gift box sales for Oct. 31,” Blattner explains. “We do our own shipping and don’t use a fulfillment house for our orders. That means Nov. 1 triggers our really busy season. It’s kind of ‘round the clock’ here so we can get our orders out.”

With the variety of products and assortment opportunities available, Amana uses a marketing department to churn out such ideas beyond the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. They cover the off-season with such features as barbecue and tailgate-themed gift boxes. Indeed, they sell a Smokehouse Club assortment that sends its “member-customers” different specialty products six times per year, a bacon assortment featuring four of their different flavored bacons, and even a four-times a year Holiday Club package that includes Easter ham; Independence Day ribeyes; smoked turkey for Thanksgiving; and a sausage, snack-meat-and-cheese medley for Christmas.

“The club thing isn’t that gigantic,” Blattner notes, “but when you can start a lot of months knowing you already have 40 or 50 specialty items sold, that’s a big thing for any small production shop.”

Stepping up capabilities for production seems to be on the radar at Amana Meats & Smokehouse. Blattner also believes strongly that the best effort will be in constantly improving the mail-order program to make it stronger and in promoting the Amana Colonies attraction as a whole.

“We’re not doing anything drastic, just taking thought-through steps that improve our efficiency and maintain the quality of our products and the experience of our customers,” Blattner explains. “We want them to open and enjoy their order and set their sights on coming back for the next one. That helps change the dynamic for our slower months.”

He said one check on the quality of their meats has been in competition. The company has won the Judge’s Choice Awards in the area Wurst Festival three years running and this year took home the People’s Choice Award. Blattner says they want to get out to stronger competitions at different levels to keep their products on a quality level with others while tapping into new product innovations.

 
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