Herschel Walker makes run at meat processing
June 30, 2009
by Bryan Salvage
DALLAS — Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, 47, is participating in Southwest Foodservice Expo, a three-day trade show starting July 5 as founder and chief executive of Renaissance Man Food Services Inc. — one of the largest minority-owned meat processors in the nation, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Based in Savannah, Ga., Mr. Walker’s company has more than 100 employees and achieved $70 million in 2008 sales. His business co-owns a chicken processing plant in Siloam Springs, Ark., and chicken accounts for 70% of the company's sales, he said. Renaissance Man also sells precooked ribs and other items under the Herschel's Famous 34 and H. Walker Foods brands. His products are primarily sold to hotels, as well as to restaurants, hospitals and the military.
Renaissance Man began business in 2000 following a casual conversation Mr. Walker had with a Sysco Corp. vice-president who asked him to provide some chicken-breading recipes from his mom. ConAgra Foods Inc. produced some samples using the recipe and the product sold well, Mr. Walker said. Production later shifted to Tyson Foods Inc.
Approximately three years ago, Mr. Walker entered a joint venture with privately held Simmons Poultry Farms Inc., which had the Arkansas processing plant.
As the sole owner of Renaissance Man, Mr. Walker has invested about $25 million from his own pocket into the business. In 2006, Renaissance Man won Sysco's annual Heritage Award, given to its top women- and minority-owned suppliers, according to the Dallas Morning News.
According to Mr. Walker he spends about half his time "in the food world."