Vilonia's Cypress Valley Meat Processor Grows, Bucks Closure Trend

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

“We felt like with just a little bit of assistance that they could really expand the availability of USDA-inspected slaughter in the state of Arkansas,” said Annett Pagan, director of U.S. Programs at Winrock.

Hot Springs Expansion

After 75 years in business, the G.E. Hawthorn Meat Co. of Hot Springs wanted to exit the industry in January 2012. Mary Hawthorn, its former owner, said her husband’s health prompted the decision.

Winrock wanted to keep the plant open and considered buying a mobile slaughter unit. The plan was for Cypress Valley to operate the mobile unit, Shaw said. But the cost for the unit would have been $150,000 to $300,000.

“There was no way that was ever going to cash flow,” Shaw said. Winrock “came to us and asked if we could operate [the plant]. We said yes.”

Cypress Valley arranged to lease the facility from the Hawthorns and started in January 2012.

At first, business at the Hot Springs facility was slow, but it has been building, Shaw said.

In January, the Hot Springs facility had its best month processing 20 hogs and 15 cows, Shaw said. The previous monthly high had been 10 hogs and 10 cows.

Cypress Valley also made the arrangement with Fergus Nolan, the owner of F Nolan & Son, to produce Irish sausages, 1-ounce spicy pork sausage links that are almost an inch in diameter and 3 to 4 inches long, and other Irish-style products.

Nolan said he found Cypress Valley by looking through a list of USDA-inspected meat producers, and he and Shaw hit it off. Nolan said it was difficult to find a processor, but “Cypress was very responsive.”

Nolan couldn’t project, however, how much revenue his new business would be able to generate for Cypress Valley.

In 2012, Cypress Valley had $400,000 in revenue, almost three times what it had in 2011, Goode said.



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