Cunningham Meats LLC in Indiana, Pennsylvania, was founded and has been successfully perpetuated on the seemingly simple concept of “taking requests.”
The 23-employee, independent meat processing company was established in 1956 when Robert Cunningham heeded pleas from area farmers who wanted someone to smoke and cure their meats. The homemade block smokehouse on the Cunningham family farm was simple but effective, utilizing an outside firebox and an internal ceiling fan system to circulate the smoke.
His grandson, Scott Cunningham, 49, is the third-generation owner of the business that has thrived on fulfilling the needs of locally based customers.
“It was a very simple business,” he explains. “I worked with my father, Thomas Cunningham, after school and remember our first addition. We called it a drip room and aging cooler. Farmers were so pleased with the flavor of the cured and smoked meats that they began asking our family to do custom slaughtering and cutting of their meats.”
Scott began working in the business at the still un-ripened age of eight, and years later the sports-minded Scott was recruited to help out after school. He could play sports all he wanted, but heading to the meat processing business directly from the field or court was always part of the game plan.
More recently, the family business, located 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, has added a small retail store, a separate smokehouse room, a product chill cooler, and a package room to keep the fully cooked product separate from the fresh meats. The next step in their planning stage is adding a deli for customers to come in and grab lunch on the go.