Ted Wampler Jr. and his son Trae show off the biomass material at the Wampler plant.

Sustainable mission

And while saving energy is obviously a worthwhile endeavor as a business strategy and as a commitment to the environment, Wampler says the motivation for what he’s doing goes a lot further and deeper.

“I’ll be honest, we had concerns about people leaving meat behind, not consuming meat anymore because of concerns about the environment,” the cheerful and scientifically minded CEO says. “I felt we (the industry) had to innovate, bring people back to our products who may have left. And I feel very strongly that we owe it to all our customers – including people who love to eat meat, and their families and their children – to make our products in as sustainable way as we can. We must do this for our children, our grandchildren, and beyond.”

Wampler strongly believes that saving planet Earth is not only very smart business, but is the right thing to do. And that those two goals can be accomplished simultaneously. “It’s really the basis of my business philosophy,” he says. “If every company did this, and I don’t mean just meat and poultry processors, I mean companies in every industry, we’ll be making much better decisions about improving the world, and better for future generations.”

He also thinks he’s helping his neighbors, especially with his solar power generation. “We’re putting power on the grid that the utility company doesn’t have to. We’re selling this power we have to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). So, our solar power helps reduce the peak time demand.” It also helps Wampler’s company earn some income.

“We believe it is our duty to make our products in the most sustainable, most environmentally responsible way possible,” he says. Wampler’s has decreased its use of water, while operating efficient recycling programs and using boxes made from recycled materials.

Wampler has other goals, like creating the meat industry’s first sausage container that’s recyclable. It would be made from switchgrass pulp, a biomass material that could end the use of artificial materials for such containers.

He believes these innovative technologies could help end poverty and starvation in many areas of the world and improve the lives of billions of people.

In looking back at what the company’s been doing for the past eight years, Wampler acknowledges the company’s leaders and the business approach are interestingly opposed. “We’re actually conservative Christians, we believe in gun ownership,” he says, laughing. “So, for a lot of people, the two – concern for the environment and conservative beliefs – maybe seem inconsistent. But that’s really proof you shouldn’t make assumptions about people and their beliefs. If you think about it, those two beliefs – concern for the future of our world and accomplishing things in a conservative way – really are consistent. Our world is changing. What we do, and how we do it, is going to affect future generations. We owe this to our children and to our children’s children, to change our lifestyles, and to preserve what we have for our future.”