SHERRILL — Joe’s Jerky didn’t win this year’s EDGE Business Competition, but the Sherrill start-up business sparked enough interest from contest sponsors that they followed through with funding that helped the business expand to a new location.
Mohawk Valley EDGE, which hosts the yearly business competition, recently approved Joe’s Jerky and companion business Nonnie’s Country Store for a $32,500 agribusiness loan to expand both manufacturing and retail space at the business, according to a news release from EDGE.
The money, coupled with an undisclosed amount of capital from a private investor, has enabled Joe’s Jerky to purchase new equipment that quintuples its production capacity, co-owner Jodie-Lynn Patla says. Patla and her father, Joseph Robinson, launched Joe’s Jerky in July 2011, expanding Robinson’s home-based jerky business into a full-fledged operation.
Response to the jerky has been so strong, the company needed more space than the 900 square feet it occupied near New York Pizzeria, across from Sherrill Manufacturing.
Patla entered the business competition in hopes of securing some funding that would help the business expand. However, another business — Noble Wood Shavings of Sherrill — walked away with the top prize of $20,000 cash and a $50,000 loan.
Fortunately, Patla says, Joe’s Jerky made enough of an impression for Mohawk Valley EDGE to follow through and help the business with its expansion plan.
“Joe’s Jerky not only epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit of the Mohawk Valley, but also capitalizes on the locally grown and produced aspect of its agricultural heritage,” EDGE President Steven DiMeo said in the news release.
Joe’s Jerky also worked with Oneida Savings Bank and Mohawk Valley Rehabilitation Corporation to finance the move to the former Gingerbread House Restaurant site at 129 E. State St., Sherrill. Patla did not disclose the specific financing received from the different entities or the total relocation costs.
Along with expanding to 2,500 square feet, Joe’s Jerky also added several new pieces of equipment including walk-in coolers and refrigerators as well as a commercial slicer and a larger smoker. The new equipment boosts production capacity from 25 pounds of jerky daily to 150 pounds.
Patla says she hopes Joe’s Jerky now generates a sales increase that matches its production increase.
“We’re hoping to pick up more and more convenience stores and some distributors,” Patla says. About 130 independent locations, such as Jay-K Independent Lumber in New Hartford, carry Joe’s Jerky, as well as a number of local convenience store chains such as SavOn and Nice N Easy. Patla says Byrne Dairy should be carrying Joe’s Jerky within the next few weeks as well. She declined to provide any sales figures or projections.
To keep up with growing demand for the jerky, “we are looking to hire a few people to help out in the kitchen and store,” she says. She hopes to hire two people in the immediate future and add more as the business continues to grow. Currently, Patla and her father are the only employees for both the jerky business and the store.
Joe’s Jerky opened for business at the new site on Sept. 8, and Patla decided with the move to also split Nonnie’s Country Store as a separate entity that sells gourmet-food items as well as locally produced products, including Joe’s Jerky.
In addition to housing Joe’s Jerky and Nonnie’s Country Store, the 3,800-square-foot building will soon be leasing out space to The Pizza Shop and Patla also anticipates leasing out space to an ice cream shop.
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