Stephen McDonnell founded Applegate Farms Meat Company more than 25 years ago, turning a $250,000 investment into a natural and organic company that produces nearly $200 million in revenue annually in the meat sector.
McDonnell shared Applegate's story with Inc.com starting with the beginning in 1987. After he bought what was then a nitrite-free bacon plant called Jugtown Smokehouse, the company burned down in 1988. Though discouraged, McDonnell didn’t give up on his goal, and changed the company’s name to Applegate Farms, telling Inc.com:
“…I couldn't walk away. That's when I realized that I was committed to the business in a deeper way than I had thought. Eventually, I had an epiphany: The mission of this brand is to change the way America eats meat. Twenty-five years later, it's still what this company is about.”
According to the article, McDonnell’s company has gone from selling 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of meat a week to 700,000 pounds.
McDonnell says the company’s success comes from its unique position in the market.
“We're not farmers or processors or cookers or retailers. What we do is create the recipes and manage the very complex variables to ensure that everything is done on time and with the highest quality.”
He attributed the company’s wide domain as a factor that allowed its name to reach all corners of grocery stores’ meat section telling Inc.com, “Stores like us, because no other brand of meat can fit in more places in the store with different products.”
McDonnell said that although taking his privately owned company public is tempting; he admits he hopes the transition will happen later rather than sooner.