The success of a small business can be measured in many ways. For Cunningham Meats, nearly 200 awards in state and national cured meats competition serve as a testament to the family’s reputation. In addition, there’s confidence earned by handling livestock from four county fairs and heavy participation with 4-H groups.
“We process the show animals and donate our facility for use in carcass and meat judging and grading programs not only with our local groups, but also for training by Penn State animal science students,” Scott says.
While large meat conglomerates may hire sophisticated advertising agencies to attract customers and expand their share of market, the Cunningham enterprise plows forward by listening to their customers about what they want and serving their needs.
“A key to our success is our employees,” Scott emphasizes. “I have the best crew. They work hard and are very dependable. Each position is an important part to the meat-production process. Working together as one unit in harmony, we stand as a family business that values customer service and quality products. Each employee strives to help make a product that we are all proud to offer.”
With a recent building expansion and another one underway, the plant has grown to 15,500 sq. ft. and processes up to 50 hogs and 20 beef a week, along with local lambs...a far cry from the capacity of the original 20-ft. by 30-ft. drip room and smokehouse.
“Growth can come from many things, but it comes easier when you see potential in things customers are asking you to do to help serve them better,” he continues. “They wanted their deer processed properly. We handle about 900 a year and make 17 different items from jerky, pepperoni, bologna, kielbasa, salami and wieners, to smoked, roasted and seasoned venison legs which are sliced and packaged in 1-lb. vacuum-sealed bags.”
Cunningham Meats recently installed a Rollstock machine that complements its array of hams, bacons, bolognas, snack sticks, jerky and other specialty meat items.
Advertising is limited to a few radio and newspaper seasonal announcements for popular holiday treats like whole hams and prime rib.
“We’ve put much more emphasis on social media like Facebook, where we have over 2,000 regular followers,” Scott says. “That is free advertising and one person who follows it and comes in usually tends to let others know about it.
“Route 422 that runs in front of Cunningham Road was once a dirt road, but now boasts a volume of several thousand cars and trucks a day. That’s leading me to think that a nice digital sign in front of the plant would help attract new customers who might be tempted to stop in to shop at our hot deli and sample some pulled beef or pork or many other items we feature in our catering business. I can envision someone stopping in for a quick hot sandwich walking out with 10 lbs. of ground beef, some ham or a few other items we might feature on any given day.
“Compared to other stores, our meats are priced very reasonably and the taste and satisfaction will keep new customers coming back,” he says.