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Small Business and the Power of Supporting Local

By Courtney Phelps-Talbot, Mountain View Meat Co. - Mountain View Meat Co. is an Oklahoma-based company located in Stilwell that has been operated by the Phelps Family for more than 45 years. At Mountain View, we produce and package a line of hot links and sausages made from family recipes that have been passed down through three generations.

By Courtney Phelps-Talbot, Mountain View Meat Co.

Mountain View Meat Co. is an Oklahoma-based company located in Stilwell that has been operated by the Phelps Family for more than 45 years. At Mountain View, we produce and package a line of hot links and sausages made from family recipes that have been passed down through three generations.

As the director of sales and marketing, I came onboard at Mountain View in 2009 with a goal of contributing to my family’s legacy. Mountain View is a long-standing family company selling great, high quality products, which sounds like the perfect recipe for success; however, I quickly learned that certainly was not all a company would need to achieve long-term success. You can have the greatest products on the shelf, but what if no one is buying them?

Getting your products ready for the grocery store shelf certainly has its challenges, but once those products are actually on the shelf, the real challenge truly begins. You must convince consumers to buy them and get the products into their cart. Grocery shopping is a regular routine for most consumers, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. However, the struggle is getting those consumers to buy new and different products they’ve never tried. Surveys show most shoppers tend to buy the same brands, most often sticking with what’s familiar to them. For many it’s generational –– buying the same brands their parents did. Or, they purchase national brands because they are familiar with them from TV commercials.

We believe our products are just as good or better than national brands, and here’s why.

The art of making sausages is one of the oldest techniques of cooking, and we have stuck with that old fashioned way since 1974. We believe there is no reason to mess with a good thing, which is what makes our Mountain View Hot Links so great. No matter how much we have grown, each one of our sausages is still made by hand to ensure both quality and taste.

Our sausages are made with a simple formula of quality and consistency. First, we start with beef and pork –– no mystery meat –– and only the best. We then mix in the perfect blend of spices to create bold, rich flavors that is a signature of our Southern roots.

In the modern world we live in, it would be easy to cut corners to save costs, but for us, it’s about more than saving a dollar. It’s about tradition and family. Where many companies are filling their production floors with equipment, we choose to keep our people. Machines break down over time, but people just get better, and we believe it shows in the products we produce. If you don’t believe me, then try them for yourself, and I think you’ll soon agree, they are something special.

While embracing old-fashioned cooking techniques sets our company apart from national brands, it also comes with obstacles.

Every day will bring a new set of challenges in this industry, and you can never sleep on your competition, whether big or small. With each potential new customer, we face a whole new set of challenges or obstacles specific to that company such as price structure agreements, marketing program contracts, logistical terms and food safety requirements. For a large company, these challenges often are managed by several departments or employees; whereas, a small business having marginally less employees is sometimes viewed as more of a risk. We, of course, see it as quite the opposite. Where some see risk, we see service. For us, success has come one sausage at a time, and we see value in every account.

To help Mountain View tackle challenges and gain more exposure, we became a member of the Made in Oklahoma Coalition in 2013. The Coalition consists of more than 70 food product manufacturers and further processors located within Oklahoma. Members of the Coalition work together to promote awareness of our locally made products through cooperative marketing efforts. Through combined partnerships, members are able to advertise and promote our products on TV commercials, billboard campaigns and in-store demo events –– all of which are outlets many of us wouldn’t typically have the budget to do so. Although many of us are competitors in the grocery industry, we all share one common goal that benefits us all: to see Oklahoma businesses succeed.

When Oklahoma’s economy is good, people spend money. If that money is spent on locally made products, like Mountain View Hot Links, Shawnee Mills Flour or Head Country Barbecue Sauce, it generates a demand for production for those companies. A demand for production creates a need to hire people for employment, and since we are all Oklahoma-based, we will hire Oklahomans ­­–– our very own friends and neighbors. Employment equals people with jobs, and people with jobs benefits our economy. They pay income tax, rent or purchase homes and therefore pay property tax, shop for groceries in the grocery store and pay sales tax, which results in a city’s and state’s economy being prosperous.

I challenge you to shop for locally made products. Supporting local matters. The 70 Oklahoma companies that make up the MIO Coalition had more than $4.3 billion in sales last year with all those checks being deposited in Oklahoma banks. Together, we employed more than 61,000 Oklahomans.

Local has an impact, and I encourage you to remember that when you shop.