Polashek's offers more than 100 different products including 36 different flavors of award-winning brats.
Paul, Judy, Adam and another son, Cory, are joined by six other employees in staffing the custom and retail enterprise. Their retail area is a quite small, 25 ft. by 25 ft., but the real growth has been in five expansions that made way for needed storage, cooling and freezer space that allowed for separation of ready-to-eat products from raw meats. The retail store, replete with its walls adorned with prize deer racks and competition award plaques, underwent expansion and a change in product display.
“We had to go with fresh and frozen display cases with glass doors so that customers could actually see the products and the variety,” Adam notes. “Now that may not seem like some quantum leap in marketing, but it was what our customers were looking for from us.”
Expansion was sorely needed at Polashek’s Locker. With the closure of other custom processors in the region, business has boomed and the company still has a few lockers they rent out to customers to store their frozen meats. They slaughter an average of 10 beef and 15 hogs a week and are booked up to the end of this year.
While the advertising in local papers, the website, social media and signs might advise customers to “Czech Us Out,” growth in their other products has been phenomenal.
“We make over 100 different products,” Adam advises. “We have 36 different flavors of brats, both in casings and in patty form, and we make five varieties of bacon. We have even introduced a restructured bacon. This is a large diameter casing of pork belly ends and trim that is cured with bacon spices and can be sliced to fit a hamburger roll or eaten like other bacon on the plate.”
Much of the testament to the Polashek family success is staying with their successful products, but offering them in a more convenient form. For example, they offer ring bologna not just in large rings, but in cut pieces they market as “bologna shorts.”
Some items like their prime rib, they offer in a sliced and cooked package that enables customers to microwave and serve it in three minutes. When it comes to dealing with fluctuating meat prices, the business management at Polashek’s thinks on its feet by offering a flavorful pork jerky.
“It is a business that stands on many legs,” Adam points out. “We did a great business in venison processing but hit a wall when Chronic Wasting Disease wiped out much of the deer herd and hunting activity. We had to rely on other aspects of our meat processing business and went to only accepting trimmed or quartered deer for custom work. We grind as much as 1,000 lbs. of venison a day during hunting season and about 100,000 lbs. in some years. We just have to constantly look at what’s working well and what needs to be changed. But we keep our customer needs right out front of our planning.”
Polashek's Locker Service has been in business for 33 years.
One item this country business doesn’t sell is pride...they, in fact, live it. Shirts, sweats and tees, baseball caps and stocking hats with the enticing logo, “Got Jaternice?...We Do,” abound in the community. Polashek’s two delivery trucks, which Adam refers to as free traveling billboards, are painted to highlight the meat business that is somehow very special and a bit different.
The company strongly promotes its specialty items during local sporting events, at fairs, and in-store demos and sampling programs. This may be part of the reason why this local locker plant delivers its products to 40 commercial accounts as far away as Cedar Rapids, a two-hour drive each way.
When queried about what Polashek’s management has up its sleeve for the future, Adam gets excited about what’s working well for the present.
“It’s flavors; people want something different. Sometimes the spice companies give us ideas and the customers offer their suggestions as well.”