Business name: Berry’s Processing
Address: 522 E. Elm St. in Watseka
Phone number: 815-432-3264
Owner: Kat Thiele
Opening date: 1950s
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday; 7:30 a.m.-noon Thursday and Saturday
What does this business do?
We process beef, pork, buffalo, lamb, goat and elk — custom, retail and wholesale.
Custom: bring your animal in and we will cut it to your preference, freezer wrap it and freeze it.
Retail: we have freezers out front that we sell individual packages of beef and pork cuts. We make summer sausage, brats, ground beef patties, pork burgers, sausage patties, prime ribs. We have jalapeño pork burgers, too, bacon and cheese burgers, assortment of brat links and patties.
Wholesale: We sell to restaurants and convenient stores, food stands and clubs.
What was the reason for starting this business?
To provide a service for customers to get their livestock processed.
What is the biggest challenge?
We are a state-inspected plant, so definitely it is a challenge to not only get all the work done but keep all the records for the state to keep up the plant with all the maintenance and repairs, do all the testing that we have to do with product carcass and ground beef. Records include coolers and freezer temps, slaughter records, carcass temps when cutting ground beef, temps when grinding, records galore.
When is your busiest time of the year?
Definitely it is in the fall through the holidays. Some farmers want to process their animals before the winter comes and, then with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, we stay real busy.
What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?
We sell a lot of ground beef — bulk and patties. We sell a lot of pork burgers, steaks, brats. Prime rib is very popular during the holidays.
What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?
Deal with the people, seeing the customers come in and serve them.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
I don’t get that Monday morning “blah”. I want to go to work.
What is the biggest downside?
What is the biggest misconception about your business?
That the public can’t come in and purchase products.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
The customer is most important. Go far and above to satisfy the customer.
When it comes time to retire is there a family member who will be taking over for you?
How has your business changed over the years?
New, innovative ways to cut meat
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Go for it. Expect to be there a lot of hours a day. In this day and age it is hard for new businesses to keep going. My throughs have been that some types of service that people need might be able to make it with products literally at your fingertips. Online it is difficult. I feel that it is very important to support our local businesses, to get out there and see what they have to offer.