Hershberger focuses on customer satisfaction at Farmerstown Meats

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farmerstown meats
Jonas Hershberger packages beef patties at Farmerstown Meats, in Sugarcreek, Ohio, April 25. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

SUGARCREEK, Ohio — When he was just 15 years old, Jonas Hershberger got his first experience with working in a butcher shop. He had some practice from butchering livestock at home, and got a job at Farmerstown Meats, just half a mile from where he grew up, deboning deer during the busy fall and winter months.

After six years of that, he left for 15 years to do woodworking. But he couldn’t stay away.

“I never could brush meat cutting to the side,” Hershberger said. “It was always in the back of my mind.”

In 2019, he got the opportunity to return and manage Farmerstown Meats for the previous owner. Then, in 2021, he bought the business. Since then, he’s been building the business with the help of his small crew, focusing on serving his community.

“I don’t see myself going big. You know, I want to just do a consistent service … and see what the next generation wants to do,” he said. “I like to stay small enough where I can still work and talk with customers.”

Service

farmerstown meats
The front of the shop at Farmerstown Meats, April 25. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

Hershberger’s main focus at Farmerstown Meats is customer service and satisfaction.

“If the customer is not happy, you do what it takes to make it right,” he said. “If we goofed something up, or if we think it was our fault, we’ll bend over backwards. We’ll do what’s right.”

In one case, Hershberger said, he replaced an entire deer when a customer wasn’t happy with how it was processed. He is careful to go through all of the options for how to cut meat with customers, to make sure they can keep things as close to the customers’ specifications as possible.

Hershberger’s customers come from near and far. Some are local, and some from as far as Pennsylvania. Many people who go on hunting trips to other states also return with wild game like bears, mule deer and elk to be processed.

About 80% of Hershberger’s business for custom beef butchering in the fall are returning customers.

“One of the biggest highlights for me is my repeat customers,” Hershberger said. “That tells me that I am providing a service that is likable to them … so I cherish repeat customers.”

There are a few reasons people are drawn to Farmerstown Meats, Hershberger said. The slaughter facility they work with is just about a mile away, and it has a drive-thru set up for unloading livestock, so trailers don’t have to back up to a dock. Many customers also like the atmosphere in the shop and the surrounding Amish country.

“I’ve gotten quite a few comments from people that said they actually feel a friendly atmosphere when they walk in the front doors. Hats off to the girls,” Hershberger said, referring to his employees who work at the front desk.

Team

Hershberger runs Farmerstown Meats with a team of three employees, including his oldest daughter.

During the busy winter months, he will likely increase that to 10 employees. Last season, the shop processed about 1,600 deer in addition to livestock and other wild game. Through most of the year, though, it’s a small crew.

“We work together as a team, and you know, together, everybody accomplishes more,” he said. “I think I’ve got a really good team of employees.”

Retail

In the first week of May, Farmerstown Meats added retail to its business. Hershberger decided to try retail after getting calls from people in the area that were interested in buying burgers directly from the shop.

He hopes it will make it easier for people in the surrounding Amish community to buy meat without having to travel as far and without having to buy quarters or halves of beef all at once.

“It’s not as big of a bite out of your budget,” he said. “We decided that’s another service that we can provide.”

He and his team have decided to start with raw meat like steaks, hamburger patties, bulk sausage and pork chops to test out what the community is interested in buying.

“It’s not a whole lot, but I’d rather take baby steps,” Hershberger said.

In addition to his oldest daughter, several of his other children will soon be old enough to work there as well, if they are interested in the business.

“Most of the family takes an interest in it,” Hershberger said. “I don’t know what the future holds. I guess that’s kind of up to the community.”

For now, he is focused on maintaining the business he has and exploring the retail side and on supporting his family.

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