FPL Food LLC may be a regional operation, but it provides the template for companies operating anywhere in the beef processing industry. Serving retail and food service clients – and ultimately the consumer – the Georgia-based enterprise has set standards for food safety and quality and client satisfaction. And, oh yes, the company is an innovator when it comes to tasty, convenient and economical food products, reports Dan Harvey.
FPL Food LLC not only knows what clients want but what they need. In the process, it raised the bar as to what they come to expect. Company capabilities recall one of television’s best remembered tag lines. Flashback to the early 1980s: “Where’s the beef?”
Remember that commercial? Well, FPL Food could tell Clara Peller – as it tells today’s consumers in the southeastern United States – just where the beef is, as well as where it comes from and how it’s processed. Plus, the company demonstrates why its products are far better than similar competitors.
The Augusta, Ga.-based FPL Food brings high quality beef to restaurant and dinner tables, thanks to its strong relationships with its primary clients in the retail and food-service sectors. From “day one” of its existence (FPL was incorporated in 2004) the company revamped regional industry culture as far as processing, distribution and customer satisfaction. As a result, it’s now the leading southeastern beef processing company. “From the outset, we’ve integrated the most progressive modifications into our operations,” says Steve Hixon, FPL’s director of marketing.
The region’s largest privately owned, fully integrated beef processing facility, FPL Food developed a reputation for the highest levels of food quality and safety and client satisfaction levels – a status achieved via substantial financial investment that translated into a symbiotic company/client relationship. But those who benefit the most are consumers.
FPL differentiates itself in several substantive ways, but one of the most significant involves a team mindset. “We’ve cultivated an environment that fosters team-oriented thinking,” relates Hixon.
It’s fairly easy to understand how FPL developed it business focal points. After all, the company came along when health and convenience began to become entrenched in consumer consciousness. The company was established in 2004, when it purchased the assets from a privately held business located in Augusta. From the time of purchase, FPL has remained a privately owned company, at once traditional and innovative. “Historically, we’ve processed boxed beef products, for domestic and export food service needs,” says Hixon, “and we’ve provided beef products to companies that further process output to produce products for retail and other areas. We continue offering such capabilities, but we have deepened business through direct relationships with food service distributors and global customers. This enabled us to broaden our brand and product reach.”
In addition, in its six-year existence, the company transformed a significant revenue portion into strong investments in food safety, overall facility operations and animal handling. FPL is as humanitarian and responsible as any beef processor could ever be.
FPL brands include FPL Beef, a segment involved in the distribution to food service and retail ground beef customers in the southeast region of the United States. It also involves export, which takes in customers on a global scale. Another brand is Chatel Farms, which primarily provides value-added beef products through retail customers in the southeast. The third brand, Solstice, is the company’s multicultural brand that serves retail customers in the same region. Mixing tradition with passion, the Solstice brand presents consumers with a culturally diverse mix of meat selections that form the base of recipes that can easily feed a tableful of family members happily gathered to enjoy a communal dinner.
FPL has three facilities – two in Augusta and one in Columbia, S.C. The main plant resides at the company’s Augusta headquarters. “That’s where our harvest operations take place and where the boxed beef side of our business resides,” informs Hixon. “The two other plants are our value-added sites.”
New products emerge from these facilities, directed at the retail and food service sectors. “Under the Solstice brand, we now offer a taco meat product available to both retail and food service clients,” relates Hixon. “Under the Chatel brand we offer low-pressure beef patties available to both retail and food service customers. We also offer the food service industry our beef cube steak.”
Company size adds to FPL’s versatility. “We’re at once large enough to offer beef selections at a high volume but, at the same time, we’re small enough to be able to innovate value-driven product design outside of normal daily production operations and adapt to trends related to food health and food safety,” describes Hixon.
Along with that is customer service. “We continually foster genuine relationships with customers and suppliers, and that provides a strong foundation for growth,” comments Hixon. “All relationships, at all levels, are very important to our success.”
That applies to internal relationships as well, as Hixon’s comment suggested: “We have a diversified, experienced personnel base. Our senior management boasts combined experience that takes in more than 100 years in the beef business. Further, management provides us an eclectic mix of talent that fosters the most progressive product development, distribution capabilities and customer support.”
As far as growth, FPL Food looks to the retail sector as the most fertile pasture. Currently, retail represents the largest growing part of the company’s business, reports Hixon: “We’ve placed a strong and recent focus on this sector, which involves adding more value-added products to our company menu to meet customer and consumer needs – and, again, this relates to quality, the healthiest food items and convenience. As we grow, we’ll continue to maintain the highest standards in these areas.”
Indeed, with the deployment of the most advanced equipment, business practices and operational processes, FPL Food ultimately provides individuals and families – both in the restaurant and at home – with the healthiest and most flavorful dining experience.