OMAHA, NEB. – Alan Simon, chairman of the board at Omaha Steaks, died on July 12. He was 85.

Simon was a fourth-generation owner of the business that was founded by his great-grandfather and grandfather in 1917.

“He was a leader and innovator in the industry and a mentor to many, including myself,” said his son Bruce Simon, chief executive officer of Omaha Steaks. “He left a lasting impact in Omaha and the community in Dana Point, Calif. He will be forever missed.”

Simon helped build the direct-to-consumer food industry and developed Omaha Steaks into a well-known brand around the world. That part of the business is now run by Bruce and his nephew Todd Simon and a team of professional managers along with over 1,500 workers. Now the fifth generation of family ownership has 2 million active customers across the country and more than 55 retail stores in 27 states.

“Alan was a great man that led an amazing, impactful life,” said Nate Rempe, president of Omaha Steaks. “He was a family man, businessman, and philanthropist described by loved ones as intelligent, savvy, and innovative. Alan was a true leader at Omaha Steaks and in the meat industry and will be greatly missed.”

Simon was born in Omaha in 1934 where he lived and attended high school. He then went to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

During the late 1950s, Simon transformed the way meat was shipped by creating a first-of-its-kind system that allowed Omaha Steaks to deliver large quantities of steaks at one time. The company said he modeled this idea on the methods used to package his favorite socks.

Omaha Steaks built three plant locations in the Omaha area under Simon’s leadership and added many new products from custom cuts of steak to poultry, pork and seafood.

While running Omaha Steaks, he served on the Board of Directors of the American Meat Institute (AMI), The Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFCo) and the National Association of Meat Purveyors (NAMP). Simon was inducted into several business and industry Halls of Fame. In 2006, he joined the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Omaha Business Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was named to the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. And in 2011, he joined the North American Meat Association (NAMA) Hall of Fame.

Alan and his wife Anne were married for nearly 65 years and split their time between Omaha and Dana Point, Calif.