Most companies like to tout their core values, and Bridgeview, Ill.-based Stampede Meat Inc. is no different. What Stampede Meat is doing, however, is using its values to engage more intimately with customers and suppliers. With this strategy, the company is maintaining its dedication to quality, ensuring customers and suppliers have mutually beneficial experiences in dealing with it, and building its leadership role in the industry with increased market share.
“It’s a mindset – a new direction for us as an organization,” President and CEO Brock Furlong says. “Our strategy is to plug into each customer’s strategy. The better we understand how they drive their businesses and how they measure success, the better we are able to serve them. It requires a tremendous amount of time face to face and belly to belly to understand them, and we are highly motivated to invest that time.”
He explains the company’s five values define the behaviors that customers and suppliers should expect of Stampede:
- Perform passionately;
- Challenge directly and respectfully;
- Commit to teamwork;
- Embrace innovation; and
- Improve daily.
These values and behaviors are posted throughout Stampede’s offices and plants for everyone to see, and each item carries equal weight.
“We are a fiercely competitive company,” Furlong says. “If we truly behave in a way that is consistent with all five values, we will achieve customer satisfaction each and every day, each and every week … all year long. Taking a consistent and continuous approach to the satisfaction of our customers has been key to our success.”
Striving for Excellence
Serving steakhouses, restaurant chains, retailers and the hospitality industry, Stampede Meat specializes in custom-made, center-of-the-plate beef, pork and chicken entrees. It was founded in 1995 by past CEO Joseph B. Ligas, who used his experience in the Chicago Stockyards to enter the highly competitive center-of-the-plate market and raise the market’s standard of quality.
Furlong says Stampede is doing its best business in 18 years, which he attributes to the dedication and commitment of the company’s employees.
“With 1,000-plus employees, that’s a lot of minds, experience and ideas, and that only benefits the company,” he says. “It is the responsibility of the company to create an environment for those ideas to emerge and more importantly impact the business. Our values-based approach drives transparency and helps us to find unique ways to manage new opportunities and ultimately lower costs. Our employees are impassioned and committed because they understand that they are truly valued.”
He stresses that Stampede strives for excellence in every aspect of its operations, “most notably in our products.” Furlong notes that the company’s production and distribution facility is “unparalleled in design and function” and that it exceeds USDA specifications, employs stringent temperature controls and has an unmatched HACCP program and approach to safety.
Stampede’s safety and quality assurance programs have been tested and audited by some of the world’s largest restaurant chains and retailers, as well as independent auditors. Furlong notes that it pioneered a food safety system that is currently the most effective antimicrobial intervention for sub-primal beef cuts.
“Food safety is critical,” he stresses. “We use multiple intervention steps for every product that comes into our facility. By the end of 2013, we will have invested as a team to further enhance our food safety practices, ensuring that Stampede maintains a strong industry leadership role in the safety of the products we are entrusted to produce for our customers. We take this responsibility very, very seriously as we work on behalf of our customers to assist them in building their brands and delivering their growth objectives.”
‘A Very Sizable Business’
Stampede primarily has focused on foodservice, but in an effort to diversify, the company has developed the Mission Hill Bistro and Silver Birch Farms brands, which focus on more gourmet products. Furlong explains the company is leveraging its foodservice expertise to grow further into retail, the military market and into Canada and Mexico.
“It’s still early, but we are building a very sizable business,” he says. “We are planning for very aggressive top- and bottom-line growth.
“As we grow, we will continue to focus on our five values,” he adds. “I am so proud of our people and the growth I see in our people – and that means everybody, not just management. I meet with all of our teammates at least every three months in small groups of 15 to 20 people, and it is great to see them grow, have a greater impact on the business and exceed what they thought was possible. Our five values have really had a positive impact on this organization and we expect them to continue to define our success for many years to come.”