Grand Prairie Foods Inc.
Within the world of food production, the Grand Prairie Foods Inc. (Grand Prairie) name holds an unrivaled weight. Since its founding in 2003 when Kurt Loudenback, president and CEO of Grand Prairie, and his wife, Valerie, purchased and renamed a longtime producer of barbecued ribs, shredded pork and beef and other ready-to-eat items, the company has quickly grown to distribute goods to all 50 states and Canada.
The company’s product catalog is too long to list; however, it includes such delicious items as sausage gravy stuffed biscuits, turkey and egg quesadillas, cinnamon glazed French toast and turkey sausage and cheese on a bagel. As evident by the selected choices, Grand Prairie deals mainly with breakfast items.
“Business is very good,” says Kurt. “We basically have three different channels that we’re involved in. One is in the food service world: we’re a very active seller to the hospitality industry, so we do a lot of continental breakfast products for hotel companies across the country, like Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn and Best Western. It’s a big part of our business.”
Grand Prairie’s second channel involves private labeling. “For that, we create sandwich-related items,” says Kurt. “We have encrusting equipment that produces stuffed sandwiches, and we do that for about half a dozen large companies around the country.”
The last channel focuses on developing relationships with retail sellers. “For the last three years we’ve been dabbling in retail options,” says Kurt. “We’ve created a specific breakfast sandwich that we’ve been selling into the all-natural and organic channels, and we sell that to customers such as Whole Foods, Kroger and Wegmans.”
All of these channels support the company’s focus on product development and providing excellent services - both of which have been at the center of Grand Prairie’s growth over the years. “We will meet any requirements that a customer may have, which makes us unique,” says Kurt. “We can do very small orders and very large ones, too. And we’re extremely flexible and reactive.”
Whereas some companies can find it difficult to change orders midstream, Grand Prairie takes pride in having the ability to alter a customer’s order, such as adjusting a specific food’s seasoning, even after an order has been placed. “We still stop progress on an order to change specs for a customer and that may set us back and cost us time and money,” says Kurt, “But we believe that short-term pain is worth long-term gain.”
Fast Growth with Fantastic Food
Since the company’s founding in 2003, Grand Prairie has enjoyed approximately 10 to 15 percent growth per year, which is in large part due to the company’s increasing customer base. “We’ve been gaining a lot of new customers,” says Kurt, “Which is great because commodity prices have been volatile, adding pressure to our margins. Expanding our channels of income has helped overcome these challenges.”
Steady growth has led Grand Prairie to expand from the company’s first location to a second one, both of which are located in Sioux Falls, S.D.; between the two locations Grand Prairie employs approximately 80 individuals. “Our main production facility is 25,000 square feet,” says Kurt. “The second location was purchased in 2013 and is a 25,000-square-foot warehouse and freezer.”
Moreover, growth comes also from the company’s constant pursuit of new and improved products. The company is currently focused on flavored breads. “Flavored breads are really all the rage right now,” says Kurt. “So we enrobe items, like dough around a meat filling, and wrap dough with flavors. We’ve also been focusing on matching the company’s breads’ flavor to the flavor profile of its fillings, like jalapeno or rosemary, which up until now have been typically bland.”
The company also recently created a new brand of food items, Start Healthy, targeting customers in need of more nutritious food items. “It’s our effort to offer products to the growing number of educated and discriminating consumers who want to eat healthier,” says Kurt. “The products contain high fiber, high protein, low sodium and low fat.” An example of such products includes the mouth-watering scrambled egg whites, hummus and tomatoes breakfast bowl. “It’s surprisingly delicious, something about the tomatoes and hummus really does it for me,” he says.
Together, Start Healthy and Grand Prairie’s standard breakfast items form the basis of the company’s efforts - and successes - in the food creation and distribution market. In just 10 short years, the company has carved out a growing share of the industry and clearly wants to keep carving.
“We make what a customer wants, when they want it and at a competitive price,” adds Kurt.
The Sum of All Ingredients
One would assume that a company as large as Grand Prairie would require a lot of subcontracting assistance, but the company manages much of the work in-house. “We mix, proof, bake, manufacture, freeze, package, box and ship,” says Kurt. “We buy ingredients and supplies from other companies, but that’s it.”
Having so much control over a product’s production ensures that each and every item meets both the company’s quality standards and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food safety policies. “We’re still known as a USDA-inspected plant,” says Kurt. “Thankfully we’re small enough to manage these things properly, but big enough to have a portfolio of Fortune 100 customers.”
Without a doubt, Grand Prairie delivers upon the company’s motto: “We make it easy for our customers to enjoy great food.” Kurt and Valerie Loudenback, even after a decade of work, along with the dedicated Grand Prairie Foods Inc. team, are still striving to find new ways to fulfill that goal.