If you have ever visited Grand Champion Meats in Foley or Crosslake, you might not realize that the beginnings of the company were really quite humble. We weren’t always coming up with creative products like raspberry chipotle chicken breast or gummy bear bratwurst. Actually, when we began, we were rather small.
Jerry and Linda Gall purchased Foley Locker Inc. from Bud Hansen in February of 1971. At that time, Foley Meat Locker was a custom processing operation that included beef, hogs, and wild game and locker storage rental space. Bud Hansen, battling cancer at the time, was looking to pass the business to someone young who would continue the business. Jerry was just 23 years old at the time.
|Jerry and Jack in 2011|
Back in the locker’s first days, there was one other full-time employee besides Jerry and Linda – a meat wrapper who worked for the previous owners. Part-time employees were called in when they were needed, but most of the time, it was just those three.
In 1975, a man named Jack Abfalter approached Jerry asking for a job. Jack had been working for Robel Meat Packing in St. Cloud until they went on strike. Jack was still working at the Foley Locker when Jerry celebrated his 40th anniversary in 2011.
Over time, the business began to expand. Jerry and Linda began processing sausage and added a small meat case for retail products. Locker rental space was pushed out as the business grew.
The Locker became a member of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) and which provided some valuable learning experiences in the meat industry.
They also joined the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors (MAMP) and the yearly convention became an annual trip for Jerry, Linda, and their three daughters. “They grew up in the industry, so they enjoyed visiting the vendor booths and getting pool time and pizza on the side,” says Linda.
Their youngest daughter, Kelly, joined the family business full-time after completing an associate's degree at St. Cloud State University in 1997. Kelly became a co-owner alongside her father in 2001. In a 2012 article in the local newspaper, Kelly admitted that the gummy bear brats were her favorite because “the gummies’ separate flavors give each bite something different.” Her creative ideas and knowledge helped expand the business even further - eventually adding the second retail store in Crosslake, Minnesota in 2013.
From a small 8-foot retail cooler, Foley Meat Locker – now doing business as: Grand Champion Meats – has come a long way. Today, Grand Champion Meats is still family owned and operated. The two locations have a total of 22 employees. Grand Champion Meats continues to offer custom beef, pork and wild game processing. You will find the freshest cuts of beef and pork, as well as a wide variety of sausages, smoked products, chicken, and seafood. Even gummy bear brats.