J & J Wire Adapts to Changing Business Climate and Thrives

J & J Wire Adapts to Changing Business Climate and Thrives

J & J Wire Adapts to Changing Business Climate and Thrives

All businesses face adversity. It’s how the leaders deal with adversity that shapes a company.  J&J Wire, Inc., a Beatrice manufacturing company, has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the years.

Growth Stage

J&J Wire Inc. dominated the giftware business in the 80s and 90s designing, manufacturing and shipping high quality wire and wrought iron decor to stores across the country. At one point, J & J Wire had its products in almost all gift shops coast to coast. 

J&J Wire had trouble keeping up with demand. The company mass produced its own products and custom products for large companies such as Yankee Candle and Longaberger. Hiring more employees and purchasing new equipment was the norm. 

Decline Stage

By the mid-1990s, foreign competitors began replicating J&J Wire products and selling them for half the price. That could have been the end of many jobs and a Nebraska business.  

Born Again 

John and his staff adapted their wire-working expertise to create other products. Manufacturing companies realized J&J Wire’s great reputation in wire forming and metal fabrication and began asking for help creating fan and mower guards, wire racks and parts for center pivot systems.

“We had to recreate ourselves, and we are still in the process,” John said. 

Today, John and his team are on the verge of major growth as they add staff and new equipment to keep up with demand for manufacturing orders.

“We are in a position to grow immensely, and we are also of a mindset to grow immensely,” John said.  “As we speak, we are growing with new and exciting equipment being delivered. It will put us in the position to be very competitive throughout the Midwest with manufacturers of wire products. In the fall, we will continue our growth at J&J Wire with additional new equipment expanding our capability even more.”

J&J Wire continues to create wire and wrought iron gift products, such as baskets, wine holders magazine racks and plant holders. But 80 percent of the company’s work now involves direct selling to other manufacturers.

John is looking to hire three to four more employees right now and several others in the near future to keep up with this demand, which he said is fueled by the current manufacturing economy.

“Right now, manufacturing is enjoying much better days that it had in the not too distant past,” he said.

Marketing Today

While he focuses on growing his staff and business, John has also had to change marketing methods several times during the course of his business. In the 80s and early 90s, J&J Wire sent sales reps on the road to meet with gift store owners or to attend gift markets. In the late 90s, he needed a website to compete. Today, having a great website is the norm for any business and learning SEO to show up in searches is becoming more important.

“We are positioning our sites in this process of marketing J&J Wire” John said.

For more information about J&J Wire (gifts) and J&J Wire Inc. Custom Manufacturing, please visit: http://jjwireinc.com (wholesale) http:// jnjwire.com (retail) http://jjwirecustom.com (OEM or Manufacturing)

Nebraska Shirt Co. Promotes State Pride & Culture

Nebraska Shirt Co. Promotes State Pride & Culture

Nebraska Shirt Co. Promotes State Pride & Culture

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

It was true for Kendra Goeman.

During her four years of living in Montana, Kendra realized how much she missed her home state of Nebraska.

She noticed how Montana residents showed their state pride in t-shirts, bumper stickers and hats. But when she tried to find similar items to show her state pride in Nebraska, she came up empty.

“I was really homesick, and I was looking for Nebraska stuff,” Kendra said.

Like most Nebraskans, Kendra loves the Huskers. But she was looking for apparel that showed Nebraska culture and pride outside of the Huskers.

“When you get out of the state, you want a piece of Nebraska with you,” she said. “I realized in Montana, they have pride in their state and in other things besides the Grizzlies. We didn’t have anything like that.” 

When Kendra returned to Nebraska in 2017, she decided to solve this problem. She launched Nebraska Shirt Co. as a side business to her full-time job in health care. And, she soon realized that she wasn’t the only one wanting Nebraska t-shirts.

Her shirts were so popular at craft shows and through online sales on her website that she decided to open up a store and pursue her business full time. On April 2, Kendra opened the doors to Nebraska Shirt Co. in downtown Scottsbluff.

The store features Kendra’s original t-shirt designs, including her popular “It’s For Me” Nebraska t-shirt and the “Wish You Were Beer” t-shirt.

Her t-shirts are unique because they show off Nebraska pride – not necessarily tied to the Huskers. She screen prints her designs on high-quality shirts.

“People really like the softness of my shirts,” Kendra said. “I used trusted brands for my products. People really like that part of the business.”

She also showcases Nebraska on designs she creates for mugs, ball caps, coasters, ornaments and bumper stickers.

“There’s a pretty big trend for bumpers stickers on luggage and Yeti coolers,” Kendra said. “I want to get some unique bumper stickers for Nebraska.”

In addition to her own designs and products, Kendra offers space in the store for other locally-made Nebraska products, including soy wax candles made in Scottsbluff; Nebraska-shaped cheeseboard/cutting boards made in Mitchell; leather earrings made in Morrill; natural soaps, lotions, scrubs, diaper creams, bath bombs and shower steamers made in Bridgeport; farm fresh eggs from a local farm; hand-made greeting cards made in Broadwater; locally-made home décor wooden signs; beaded leather belts and horse tack; and handmade magnets and jewelry made by another GROW Nebraska member, Louise Leisy of Create in Sidney.

“It’s not just a t-shirt shop,” Kendra said. “You can find anything in here for any age person.”

She appreciated the support that business owners gave to her when she was just starting out, so she is trying to do the same for others.

“I feel like it’s a good platform for other people to sell their products,” Kendra said of her store. “I had a lot of other people help me along the way by giving me a platform to sell my products. I wanted give back.”

Kendra said her goal is to help stock Nebraska gift shops, museums and tourist centers with Nebraska-made items instead of items made in China.

“I’d really like to be able to provide my products to the people who come into Nebraska and discover they like our state,” she said. “Then, they can take something home with them that’s from Nebraska, and shows pride in the state. I want to change the culture a little bit.”

Nebraska Shirt Co.’s summer hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Find out more about the business at https://members.grownebraska.org/list/member/nebraska-shirt-co-10515 or purchase shirts at www.nebraskashirtco.com.


Story by GROW Nebraska member Kristine Jacobson, www.krjpr.com.

GROW Launches Gary’s QuickSteak into E-Commerce World

GROW Launches Gary’s QuickSteak into E-Commerce World

GROW Launches Gary’s QuickSteak into E-Commerce World

A tip from one GROW Nebraska member led Gary’s QuickSteak to a new partnership that could open doors to new sales around the country.

Tara Pieper, National Sales Director for Gary’s QuickSteak, said GROW Nebraska made it possible to sell their frozen meat products and WOW seasoning online to retail customers everywhere thanks to a new e-commerce platform.

“We are so blessed to be GROW Nebraska members,” Tara said. “They have been a Godsend, and they are just right in our back door.”

A Growing Company

Gary’s QuickSteak, which is based in Omaha, is the creation of Gary Rohwer, former Nebraska restaurant owner and founder of PepperJax Grill. Gary created a quick-steak product initially for restaurants as a way to make the process of food preparation more efficient. Gary developed a premium steak product that could be pre-sliced and pre-portioned before it reached restaurant kitchens eliminating chopping, shredding and tearing and making cooking quicker.

Today, Gary’s QuickSteak beef, chicken and corned beef (which were previously sold under the name PepperJax at Home) are sold retail making it faster for busy families to prepare protein-rich meals.

The product is made from beef sirloin and is pre-sliced very thin so that it cooks up quick from frozen in just a few minutes. It’s ideal for making Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, rice bowls, burritos, tacos, breakfast, ramen bowls, salads, soups and sliders. Each 4-oz serving has 23 grams of protein.

“We are over 200 percent growth since September 2017,” Tara said. “I would say the reason for it that it’s an awesome product. It solves everyone’s issue – time. It’s a quality product, and it’s a healthy product.”

Although Gary’s QuickSteak is sold in 2,200 locations across the Midwest and Western parts of the county, the company did not have an e-commerce site to make it easy for customers to buy online.

If they received an order request on social media, Tara said they packaged their popular WOW seasoning in a brown padded envelope and shipped it directly from the Omaha office.

“We knew we needed to break into the eCommerce business, but we didn’t want to do it ourselves,” Tara said.

A Tip From a GROW Member

Tara said she learned about GROW Nebraska through her company’s marketing consultant, Profit Source Group, an Omaha-based agency that serves entrepreneurs, restaurant owners and food vendors. Profit Source assists restaurant owners with menu development and design, food photography, marketing and business plans, website development, cost management, wait staff training and more. 

At Profit Source’s recommendation, Gary’s QuickSteak joined GROW Nebraska, who then connected the company with another GROW Nebraska member who was already shipping frozen meat products: Nebraska Star Beef.

Nebraska Star Beef produces all natural (antibiotic-free, hormone-free) Angus beef from its family-operated business located north of Holdrege.

The company also owns and operates three restaurants, Angus Burgers and Shakes in Kearney and Omaha and Sozo American Cuisine in Kearney, where its premium beef is served.

“It’s nice to help out other Nebraska companies,” said Kayla Pfister, office manager at Nebraska Star Beef. “We just got done building a warehouse that has a large freezer in it, so we want to make sure we are making use of our space to not only help with our shipping fulfillment services, but we thought we could also help a Nebraska company that is just starting out in shipping products.”

Kayla said Nebraska Star Beef first started shipping its frozen beef in about 2012, and they initially hired a fulfillment company to store and ship their products. About four years ago, they decided to handle their own shipping and built a small garage to do so.

“We basically outgrew the garage, so we put in a large warehouse behind our office at our feed yard, and now we have lots of room,” Kayla said.

Nebraska Star Beef now handles the shipping part of Gary’s QuickSteak online sales, while GROW Nebraska manages the orders through its Buy Nebraska site.

“They totally broke us into the ecommerce market,” Tara said of GROW Nebraska. “It was so hands off for us. They did everything working with Nebraska Star Beef and their own tech team.”


GROW Nebraska Benefits

Besides the partnership with Nebraska Star Beef, Tara said Gary’s QuickSteak has benefitted from its GROW Nebraska membership by participating in the Nebraska State Fair pop-up store, through appearances on NTV and being a featured monthly GROW product. In addition, GROW Nebraska has helped Gary’s Quick Steak with online marketing using Google ad words.

“They have fun with what they do, and they are diligent and don’t miss a beat,” Tara said of GROW Nebraska staff.

She also appreciates the educational opportunities that GROW organizes, including the recent MarkeTech conference, which Tara said included top-notch presenters who shared tips to help them grow their business even more.

Kayla at Nebraska Star Beef said she appreciates the networking opportunities through GROW Nebraska and being able to learn from others and then being able to help newer companies.

Look for Gary’s QuickSteak products at more than 2200 grocery stores across the Midwest and West Coast and on GROW Nebraska’s Buy Nebraska store: where a combo pack that includes four 12-ounce packages of sirloin and three 12-ounce packages of chicken sells for $67.

Story by GROW Nebraska member Kristine Jacobson, www.krjpr.com.