UINTAH PACKING CO. STAYS STRONG DURING COVID-19
Chef Danny Justice was in the restaurant business for many years. He loved the work, but restaurant hours made it difficult to have family time.
“Many times I would get off work, pick up my little girls from the sitter and put them straight to bed,” he said.
Then an opportunity arose to buy a meat packing and retail meat sales company from an acquaintance who was ready to retire. Danny and his partner, Wayne Justice, jumped on it.
“Now, with a home attached to the business, my daughters have a yard to play in, and when the bus drops my kindergartner off, I can have lunch with her every day,” Danny said.
But there were storm clouds on the horizon. After a short internship to learn the business in 2019, Danny and Wayne purchased the Uintah Packing Company in January of 2020. News of COVID-19 was spreading, and people began to panic as stores started to run out of basic food items. Danny saw this early on as his suppliers began to raise prices.
“When I saw bare shelves and my costs going up, I immediately ordered massive inventory increases so I wouldn’t run out and so I wouldn’t have to gouge the public with big price increases.”
“When I saw bare shelves and my costs going up, I immediately ordered massive inventory increases so I wouldn’t run out and so I wouldn’t have to gouge the public with big price increases,” he said. “I offered skinless chicken breasts by the case. I thought I would sell maybe 30, but I sold that, plus 100 more.”
When asked what he sells most, he says hamburger and chicken, which is a tell-tale sign about the economic condition of the public he serves. He said his greatest achievement is that through proper planning, the business never ran out of what people needed. This strategy caused business to increase to the point that he hired three more people while other businesses were closing.
The Vernal SBDC has been involved with the Justices on many projects since 2013.
“We love working with tenacious, long-term clients with a vision to not only prosper but to assist the community,” said Mark Holmes, director of the Vernal SBDC. “I asked Danny to tell me his secret to success, and he said to be honest and help people, which seems to be the family’s mantra. We have all spent countless hours working on business plans, financial projections and answering questions from loan officers, and I am thrilled to see this project come together. The depressed economy in Utah’s oilfield makes it tough to run a successful business like the Justices have done with Uintah Packing Co., but they have done it well.”
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