Owners: Jeremy and Amanda Israel
Location: Hindsville, Ark.
History: “My great-grandfather, Louis Downum, was a meat cutter in Northwest Arkansas, and my grandfather Bill followed in his footsteps by opening a meat processing business in Lowell in 1980,” owner Jeremy Israel said. “Both my uncle Tony Downum and my father Steve Israel worked for him. I was introduced to the business during those early years by working in the kill room. I enjoyed everything because I got to work with my family. When Grandpa passed in 1996, Uncle Tony opened War Eagle Processing in Hindsville, Ark., in 2000. I bought the business three years ago after working as a Harps meat manager for 10 years, as did my father. Happily, he came with me when I moved into the new business. Since he started meat processing at 18, between us we have 53 years of experience.”
Products and Services: “We process mostly beef and hogs, but also sheep and the occasional goat. Our week is highly organized,” Jeremy explained. “Customers bring in animals on Monday at an agreed-upon time. My wife Amanda unloads and then records customer preferences for processing, which may include aging for two weeks instead of our usual seven to nine days. In between times, she slices cured meats, bacon and jowls. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are for processing. I break down the carcasses and saw, while my father debones and makes hamburger and my wife packages. We prefer wrapping our meat in plastic, then in paper rather than vacuum sealing because if a seal splits, the meat gets freezer burned. Our customers seem to appreciate the extra security and the ease of opening.”
Philosophy and future: “We pride ourselves on cleanliness and quality backed by extensive experience. Because I do the processing, I guarantee customers get exactly the meat they brought in,” Jeremy said. “In practical terms, most beef customers are happier when they grain finished their animals. Family handles every aspect of the operation, and I hope to pass it to my boys Hayden and Colt. Eight-year-old Hayden already helps stamp packages and during clean up. My boys will make the fifth generation in the meat business if that becomes their passion too, which is what sustainability is all about.