Pork Producer Triumph Foods Breeds Success in St. Joseph, MO
Company has deep roots in St. Joseph, Missouri.
While coincidental, St. Joseph’s Triumph Foods can pull a word from its name to describe the state of its business — a triumph. In just over 16 years, it has grown from a newly launched pork processing facility to one of the largest in the United States. In fact, of the pork produced in the U.S. today, it churns out just under 5% — or as president and CEO Matt England likes to describe it, “not quite one out of every 20 pork chops.”
Unlike many meat-packing companies, Triumph is owned by its producers, a group of independent Midwest hog farmers who wanted to get more involved in processing. And while this is just one of its many distinct characteristics, it is the company’s unique qualities that have allowed it to become and stay so successful.
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Quality Is Key
At Triumph, producing excellent products starts at the source, including where the hogs live and what they are fed.
“Diet really changes what the meat is like, so the owners use high-quality diets to make sure that the meat products that we’ve got is the highest quality,” England says.
“We spend a lot to make sure that we’ve got the safest product, that it has the longest shelf life, that the quality aspects associated with pork and the final product that the consumer gets really stand out,” England says.
Processing takes place in an 800,000-square-foot facility furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. For example, the company utilizes machines called cobots (or collaborative robots), which assist employees with processing.
Additionally, thanks to the facility’s size, the company has the space to add new equipment and technology as they are developed.
“The pork processing industry has evolved over time, and when it started out, it was pretty manual,” England says. “Over time, if we can make jobs easier and more accessible, that means we create an opportunity for more people to get involved and really grow as a team.”
One Big Family
Speaking of growing as a team, England credits much of the company’s success to its more than 2,400 global employees.
“We’ve got people who are ready to produce and are really committed to the process,” he says.
In fact, one family in the community has had seven members work for Triumph, while another has been part of the company for three generations.
Triumph’s ability to attract and keep great employees can be traced back to how its workers are treated, as well as the opportunities provided to them.
For example, the company offers great benefits, such as weekly pay; health, vision and dental insurance; paid holidays and vacations; and overtime opportunities. Plus, employees are met with a clean facility, a positive work environment, training options and opportunities for upward mobility, not to mention a diverse selection of careers. In addition to processing, the company offers positions in departments such as manufacturing, maintenance and engineering, human relations and accounting.
“I think it starts out with it’s a great job with great benefits, but then it transitions for people who hook into it, as it’s a great way to grow your career and be challenged everyday with something interesting,” England says.
While Triumph often refers to its staff as a family, the company is also part of a much larger unit — the St. Joseph community.
Within this circle, support is high, and most businesses and organizations work hard to help one another succeed. Triumph often partners with community organizations, including Second Harvest Community Food Bank, United Way, Missouri Western State University and the St. Joseph School District. In 2019, for example, Triumph pledged $100,000 to the St. Joseph School District over four years to support the needs of English Language Learners (ELL) in the district.
“There are a lot of people in the business community, and generally speaking, everybody kind of chips in and pulls on the rope together,” he says.
Focused on Tomorrow
While Triumph has achieved a lot over its 16 years, it is always looking toward the future.
“When we look at our business, we feel like we’re pretty good, but we feel like we could be better than we are today,” England says. “And so sometimes, part of it is just working with the team to come in each day and apply our talents to make sure that we’re a little bit better than yesterday, and I know that sounds kind of narrow in scope, but the potential for growth by being excellent at what we do versus very good is a pretty impressive growth in the company.”
This article was sponsored by the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.