After his commercial real estate company failed during the last recession, Travis Scarpace was broke. “At one point, I thought about becoming a street performer, but a man can only live on Cup O Noodles for so long,” he jests.

But after sizing up his career options, Scarpace realized people still needed to eat, regardless of the economy, “so [the meat industry] seemed like one that would not be affected by the economy,” he says.

As director of sales and marketing for Jensen Meat Co., Vista, Calif., he is thankful he entered the industry. About two years ago, he was hired as a sales rep and was soon promoted to his current position. During his first six months, Scarpace closed a major account – which yielded a 13 percent increase in sales. The company has also enjoyed a 33 percent increase in volume from current and new customers since he joined Jensen.

“Travis has exceeded all expectations,” says Bob Jensen, president, CEO and Scarpace’s step-father. “He came into Jensen with a motivated attitude and quickly dissected our entire selling process.”

Scarpace, 29, worked with Jensen’s team to identify all features and benefits the company offers and organized them into a logical presentation to determine what features of company products are most important to the customer. He has worked on accounts ranging from retail, foodservice, restaurants and quick-service restaurants.

“Travis is an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinker and he will definitely be a popular name in the meat industry in years to come due to this and his high level of motivation,” Jensen predicts.

If Scarpace can make someone’s life easier, and deliver a higher-quality product that is linked to a trusted source, he feels he has succeeded. “Sales is the art of listening to and helping people,” he adds. “I really enjoy learning about new people, their companies and what they need.”

He not only enjoys the honesty and camaraderie in the meat industry, he appreciates that industry veterans willingly pass along their knowledge to younger people. Jensen’s staff has made his transition easy thanks to their help and wealth of knowledge.

Scarpace has been involved with the National Meat Association and serving on several committees, which he says has been a great experience.

Scarpace says his major challenge is being patient. Luckily, he can address some of the patience issues at the gym.

When time allows, Scarpace loves being with his three half-brothers Garrett, 16; Shane, 11; and Aidan, 7.

Industry heroes

When asked who he admires most in the industry, he answers Bob Jensen because of his high values. “He always does what is correct from a safety and quality perspective,” he adds. “He has been an excellent mentor.”

Scarpace also admires Robert Rebholtz, president and CEO of Agri Beef Co., Boise, Idaho. “He is an incredibly successful industry leader who asked my market opinion when I was only six-months on at Jensen,” he says.

Scarpace says he’s a lucky man. “What an amazing group of people,” he says. “If there was a reality show following the lives of the meat industry influentials, like Barry Carpenter, Eldon Roth, Robert Rebholtz, Rosemary Mucklow and Mike Hesse, college people would flock to this industry.”