The name may be unconventional, and the idea might be risky, but for Corey Tucker and Joe Rancourt, their efforts have so far paid off.
The founders of CJ’s Dehydrated Products & Snacks have been hard at work since turning their tasty business idea into a reality just three short months ago.
Tucker and Rancourt produce a wide variety of beef jerky, trail mixes, dehydrated fruits, spices, and candies – all of which feature a unique lineup of flavours.
The pair have been friends for around twenty years, both having served in the Canadian Armed Forces. They also have backgrounds in culinary training and restaurant management.
Their idea started a few months ago when Tucker and Rancourt had been making beef jerky out of their homes for personal enjoyment.
After their wives encouraged them to start selling it, they decided to take a chance, but it came with a bit of hesitancy.
“There’s so many jerky companies out there,” Tucker says. “How do you compete against national chains?”
One of their first steps was coming up with a name – particularly something catchy and memorable.
“We didn’t want to be like anyone else, so that’s where ‘Jerk My Meat’ originally came from,” Rancourt says. “It was just one of those things where we were throwing names out, and one of our wives said, ‘what about Jerk My Meat?’ And we thought, ‘Isn’t that a little provocative?’”
The founders discovered the name hadn’t been taken by any other companies, so they decided to use it. Although it’s a name you can’t forget, they explain the decision has brought a bit of controversy to their brand.
“The name has come with mixed reviews,” Rancourt admits. “There are some that don’t read between the lines.”
While the name may shock some customers, Tucker says the real surprise is in the genuine quality and taste of their beef jerky.
“It’s personable and handcrafted,” he says. “You’re not going to get another jerky in the city with these flavours.”
The meat goes through an intricate and homemade process before it’s ready for distribution. From stripping, weighing, marinating, mixing, refrigerating, and sealing – each step is taken with care, and many of those steps are repeated to ensure quality taste.
Since turning their idea into a business, the two have been conducting their jerky operations out of Bruni’s Fine Foods on Wellington Street West. Lou Bruni, the owner of the meat market, assists the entrepreneurs by cutting all the meat and providing a space for them to prepare the jerky.
To suggest Tucker and Rancourt are appreciative of Bruni’s assistance would be heavily understated.
“He could have just turned around and said no,” Rancourt says. “He taught us how to log, how to make proper cuts, and how to make the jerky more consistent compared to us doing it at home. Now we have a consistent product.”
“His first line to us was pay it forward,” Tucker says. “He took us under his wing. Without him, Jerk My Meat would not be here.”
Soon after establishing a lineup of beef jerky, Tucker and Rancourt registered their company as CJ’s Dehydrated Products & Snacks, allowing the duo to broaden their base and expand their product lines.
The company now features a diverse lineup of handcrafted rubs and spices called “Rub My Meat,” as well as a variety of cotton candies and other delectable items called “Barnyard Treats.”
As more outdoor activities have been taking place across the Sault, Tucker and Rancourt have been setting up a table at every local event, festival, and showcase they can get their hands on.
The two are looking forward to displaying their products throughout the summer, including at events like Steel City NerdCon, Rotaryfest, Loud and Proud, as well as the Marconi Multicultural Festival.
Their products can also be purchased at Bruni’s, Whiskey Barrel, Velorution, and the Chippewa Falls restaurant, and they’re actively pitching to local businesses around town as well.
“Some say yes, some say no,” Rancourt says. “Some are offended by the name, so they don’t give us the benefit of chance, even though we’d give them samples.”
The jerky founders are also proud to donate a portion of their sales to non-profit organizations depending on where they set up a table. Last week, they attended Jamestown Strong and donated some of their proceeds to the Compassionate Hub on Gore Street.
The ultimate goal for the duo is to continue growing their company while maintaining a sense of community-mindedness.
“Our next step is to get a storefront,” Rancourt says. “I’d love to stay local as much as possible. If we ever got big enough, I’d still keep it local and hopefully be able to employ people to help us on this venture and keep it community-based.”
“Did we think we’d get this big? Not a chance in hell,” Tucker says. “It keeps us busy, and it keeps our passion alive.”
CJ’s Dehydrated Products & Snacks offers shipping across Canada.
Locals can place an order over the phone or through their website, and the company offers pickup and delivery services.