A business success built on integrity and respect
Almost forty years ago, when Bob Hageman first entertained the idea of starting his own company, he was growing tired of working for people with negative attitudes who mistreated employees and customers. He thought, “There has to be a better way.”
Bob shared his thoughts with Joe Dehmer, owner of Dehmer’s Meats in St. Michael, Minnesota. And, together – in 1979, Joe and Bob decided to team up, establish J&B Group, and buy a refrigerated sausage truck that Bob could use to make deliveries.
Today, Bob Hageman is Chairman of J&B Group and his son, Mike Hageman serves as CEO. The company has grown to become an innovative leader in the retail and foodservice industries a combination of wholesaling, branded products, custom food service cutting, cold storage and transportation of a variety of meat, poultry, seafood and deli food products.
What contributed to the evolution of J&B Group, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue today? It can be summarized in one powerful word: Respect.
Bob Hageman lives life by the Golden Rule: “Treat people like you would like to be treated yourself,” he says. Every action and every decision is based on this core value.
A Family Tradition
Both of Bob’s children, Lori and Mike have taken on various roles within the business – along with other Hageman family members including two of Bob’s brothers, Tom and Ken. Bob has said, “The backing of Colleen (his wife), my children Lori and Mike, and my brothers Tom and Ken were critical to getting the business off the ground.”
Family members at J&B spread much farther than just the Hageman’s. A couple examples are the Watters family and the Dehmer family — where multiple family members have been on the payroll. Maintaining a family-oriented culture is important at J&B — not just in the associates who work here but in giving associates a feeling of belonging.
Diversification and No Name Steaks®
Much was changing in the industry in the early 1990’s, which led the J&B management leadership team to begin diversifying its operations, and in 1993 one of their our biggest opportunities was discovered: No Name Steaks®.
In 1995, with the increase in frozen products in the marketplace, J&B invested in building a freezer and entered the public cold storage business as a way to position the company for long-term growth.
The next wave of innovation came in the late 1990’s, when there was a shift from a manufacturing process called cow boning, to producing portion-cut value-added products including branding and marinating of products.
A Flurry of Acquisitions
From the late 90’s into the early 2000’s, J&B acquired additional businesses and product lines to expand the company’s capabilities. Each company was carefully reviewed in a very deliberate manner. J&B uses written acquisition guidelines to screen potential acquisition candidates; however intuition and company culture are primary considerations.
Business Reorganization Breeds Clarity
While rapid growth is great, management of that growth is imperative. Back in 2003-2005, decisions were becoming really difficult. Even though the company had great growth spurts and had diversified the business, it hadn’t organized itself to really see clearly all the way through to the customer base.
So in 2006, J&B restructured the company into business units. Each unit had distinct customer and consumer targets along with market functions. After the reorganization, the management leadership team better understood the customer base, the needs of the customer, how to service the customer and what product lines to deliver to them. These changes have positioned the company us to continue to grow and take on future challenges.
The J&B Way
By treating our associates with respect, we build a strong and loyal workforce – a workforce that’s empowered to invest in itself, build a better company and treat its customers with respect.
By treating our customers with respect, we tell them that they are important. Our expertise translates into better results for our clients and helps them pass on that respect to our consumers. In the form of high-quality products.
By treating our communities with respect, we can give back to the areas where we work – which not only makes all of us better, it also ensures that our next generation of associates will be well prepared to continue the cycle.
By treating our consumers with respect, we earn their loyalty. Producing quality products is the ultimate goal, because it makes our customers’ lives better. And their loyalty allows us to grow and give back to the communities around us.