K. Heeps Inc.: Manufacturing and Processing Specialty Meats

Kermit Heeps founded K. Heeps Inc. (KHI) in 1948 as a direct-to-end food manufacturing and distribution company. Based in Allentown, Pa., KHI has since grown significantly over the years. Today the team of 45 operates out of two locations in Allentown, processing all major proteins. The company is still family-owned and -operated, as brothers Beau Heeps, third-generation president of KHI, and Ted Heeps, vice president of KHI, embrace the family tradition.

The business embraces a family environment while simultaneously developing new products. KHI offers big-business products, but with practices that are more friendly to customers. “We’re different from the big distributors,” says John Meyers, general manager for KHI.

KHI strives to maintain relationships through quality products and services, with service restaurateurs large and small within 150 miles of the facilities. The process is oriented toward customer service, and Meyers reinforces that the team is focused on providing customers with what is needed, without up-selling with prepackaged quantities. KHI recognizes the varying needs of food-industry clients, and has built success upon meeting those needs, and not just sales numbers.

The Heeps Difference

In the 1990s Beau and Ted’s father, James, patented a process for pureed food that is still in wide use in the health care industry. Today the business still processes these products under the same patent. Pureed meats offer protein and nutrition to patients who have trouble chewing solid food, namely dysphasia patients. KHI produces a range of varieties and flavors, including roast beef, chicken, beef patty, ham, roast pork, roast turkey, white fish, pea, green bean, carrot, corn, broccoli, pear, mixed berry, peach, fruit cup, bacon, scrambled egg, sausage, lemon chiffon, strawberry cheesecake, apple cobbler, chocolate mint, spaghetti with meat sauce, macaroni and cheese and pizza. Clients all over the United States utilize this health care staple, and the product’s reach extends into Canada.

While the meat business may seem limited, the Heeps family is always developing something new. The catalog to-date includes a spread of steaks in different cuts and trims, packaged for easy transportation and use. Pork products range from chops to sausage, and KHI’s barbecue pork has gained wide regard as a tasty menu item. Chicken offerings are prepared fully ready to cook. Customers can choose from a range of nearly complete poultry entrees, seasoned, stuffed or breaded in-house and sent out for consumption.

The production line doesn’t stop with land animals. KHI offers a range of seafood dishes, guaranteed to please customers. Crab cakes, lobster tails and fish filets are frozen fresh, and are offered as ingredients or fully seasoned entrees for restaurateurs. The team offers vegetables, too, which are diverse additions that help customers to utilize KHI as a one-stop shop. Peas, carrots, corn, broccoli and more make great additions to entrees as garnishes, ingredients and sides. A growing division in the business brings specialty items to consumers. Snack items are gaining a growing presence in the business, with products like pierogies, French toast sticks, jumbo pretzels and pizza.

Market Management

The recent recession has affected businesses in all sectors, and KHI has not escaped the impact of the downturn. “Restaurants are hurting,” say Meyers. “No one has expendable income to go out to eat.”

To stay competitive in a shrunken market, KHI has determined an avenue for standing out from other distributors. “We’re always setting ourselves apart from the big guys,” Meyers continues. “We’ve established policies that attract business by offering more to customers for less. We have no delivery surcharge fees, or fuel charges, and we have a very small minimum dollar amount for delivery.”

Consistency is key at KHI, even if customers have inconsistent needs. “We customize orders to what our customers are specifically looking for,” Meyers explains. “We don’t have to sell a set quantity or what comes in the box. We sell people what they need.” At KHI, everything is performed in-house to control costs, and the company works with suppliers over and over, thus developing long-term relationships and consistent quality in materials and final products.

The business has remained stable through these growth initiatives, and Meyers is looking forward to years of success in the market. “We’re focused on consistent innovation to continue growing,” he details. “We’re getting bigger and better, developing more items for production. One of our newest initiatives is a wagyu, grass-fed beef program.” Wagyu is gaining popularity as a natural meat product, and KHI is picking up the trend with open arms.

With continued growth, KHI is holding its place as a leading processor for the food industry. Custom orders and a positive service experience keep customers coming back for more. With a USDA inspector on-site and affiliations with the North American Meat Processors Association, NSF Cook and Thurber, the company is well-connected with several avenues of quality control. K. Heeps Inc. provides fresh, tasty products to restaurateurs around the region through an efficient and customer-friendly system.