Finding the Sweet Spot in Salty Snacks

Karl Schledwitz and Monogram Food Solutions exist in the highly competitive space of meat snacks, corn dogs and processed meats. Monogram Food Solutions was born in 2004, when Schledwitz and partner Wes Jackson purchased regionally popular Circle B and King Cotton smoked meat brands from Sara Lee Corporation.

November 15 2013 by Steve Rosenbaum


Karl Schledwitz and Monogram Food Solutions exist in the highly competitive space of meat snacks, corn dogs and processed meats. Monogram Food Solutions was born in 2004, when Schledwitz and partner Wes Jackson purchased regionally popular Circle B and King Cotton smoked meat brands from Sara Lee Corporation.

Today, Monogram is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of licensed, co-packed and company-owned brands of meat snacks. Monogram’s brands include Wild Bill’s, Hannah’s, Trail’s Best Meat Snacks, O’Brien’s Meat Snacks/Sausages, King Cotton, Circle B Brand and Bulls.

Schledwitz states that his goal is “to create a contagious environment of success.” He surrounds himself with employees who share his passion. “People selection is so important to what I do,” he says. “We want partners or associates with that entrepreneurial spirit.”

That entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in Monogram’s growth strategy. Realizing the difficulty in attempting to grow organically by starting new brands, Schledwitz achieves growth by adding to currently existing platforms. The Memphis-based company knew their product line was regional and that there were opportunities on the west coast; so last year, Monogram bought The Enjoy and Hickory Best brands from Enjoy Foods International, a Colton, Calif.-based processed foods manufacturer. In so doing, Monogram extended its reach and brand strength in a part of the nation where they had little visibility.

Schledwitz maintains that “if we are not innovating, we cannot compete.” A case in point is creating a new market segment from “damaged” products. Schledwitz saw a small percentage of corn dogs damaged as they rolled off the production line. Rather than throw them away, Schledwitz created the “Uglys” brand corn dog. The “Uglys” sell at a discount at retail while bolstering Monogram’s bottom line.

Schledwitz was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Award in the Southeast and was MBQ – Inside Memphis Business’ CEO of the Year 2012.


Read: Memphis Business Journal / Monogram Foods lands another acquisition in quest for growth goals / September 14, 2012

Read: Forbes / The Jerky Revolution – Think Tasty, Not Chewy / August 3, 2012

Read: The Wall Street Journal / Trying to End Jerky Shame With Gourmet Flavors / September 26, 2012

Karl Schledwitz

Founder & CEO – Monogram Food Solutions

Size:

1,400 Employees

Location:

Memphis, TN

Goal:

Instill passion for success into every associate at Monogram

Fact:

Pioneered bacon based jerky, which is now the fastest growing segment in the jerky category

Unique:

Instead of casting off imperfect corn dogs as they rolled off the assembly line, Schledwitz decided to brand them as “Uglys.” By branding a defective product, Schledwitz was able to create a new product line, sell it at a discounted rate, while bolstering the company’s revenue stream.