What’s the secret to great-tasting beef jerky? Making it jumbo-size, says Hal Gullick, owner of Hal’s Homemade Jerky.
“A lot of times you buy a big bag of jerky, but it’s full of itty-bitty pieces,” he notes. “Not mine. My customers see the big slabs of beef jerky in my bags and they want to eat it.”
The small business, based in Shady Point, Okla., specializes in half-pound bags of homemade beef jerky. Gullick makes the product himself, with assistance from several employees. He also sells cinnamon pecans, homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies, and cinnamon-flavored toothpicks through his retail shop, company website, and eBay store.
The GoPayment Blog recently spoke with Gullick about how he got started, his good fortune on eBay, and the possibilities of creating “jerky huts” throughout Oklahoma.
GoPayment: How did you come up with the idea for a homemade product?
Gullick: Around 1984, I started working at Whirlpool Corp. After being there only a few months, I tasted another co-worker’s homemade jerky, and it intrigued me so much I wanted to know how to make it. I started out with a $35 dehydrator and things took off. During the 25 years that I worked at Whirlpool, there were only maybe six months that I didn’t make jerky.
Have you ever thought of producing the jerky commercially?
About nine years ago, I tried going commercial while working at the Whirlpool factory. I got a manufacturer to make my jerky for me, but the taste just wasn’t there because of all the preservatives they added. The manufacturer went out of business (due to his own mistakes), and I said if I ever made jerky again it would be homemade.
That was in 2003. Some guys at work knew I had made jerky in the past, and they were begging me to make it again, so I started making the $20 bag of jerky. Now about 85 percent of my customers buy my $20 bag.
Besides selling bags to co-workers, how have you grown the business?
I have a store that’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Since I opened it a year ago, I have not borrowed from a bank or anywhere; I have just let the business grow itself.
I also put my store on eBay in August 2011. When I was typing in my store name, I was going to put “Hal’s Homemade Jerky,” but then I typed “Homemade Jerky” and no one had that store. So now when people search “homemade jerky” on eBay, I’m at the very top. Since then, I’ve sold $8,000 worth of jerky on eBay.
How did you find out about GoPayment?
Someone at the store asked me, “Do you take debit cards?” I got on my phone and typed “accept debit cards” in a search and Intuit came up. I called the number listed, and within an hour I was taking cards.
I really enjoy GoPayment and like the simplicity of it. Now every time I run a debit card, people say, “Wow, that is so neat.” I’ve been using it for about a year now, and I’ve done many, many transactions. I love it. I don’t know how many people I’ve given the information to. I just write down “Intuit GoPayment” when people ask.
Any thoughts for entrepreneurs who want to make and sell a homemade product?
I’ve got a plaque on my wall that says, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” We need to live our dreams and make them happen, because dreams can’t come alive unless you work to turn them into reality.
What’s next for your jerky business?
Just like those stands that sell snow cones, I want to put up “jerky huts” where I can sell my products. The Health Department said that as long as I’m just selling bags of jerky I can do that. I’d love to see a dozen of those in my area.