Gerhardt had previously worked in a meat market and locker plant in Arlington, Minnesota giving him the experience to provide custom processing for the area farmers. At that time, the building was comprised of a smokehouse, production area, a foot meat counter and the apartment where Gerhardt and Esther lived and raised their two sons. While their primary focus was custom processing, they steadily grew the retail business. They had one employee. Gary assumed handling of the accounting and marketing side of the business, Bruce served as the general manager overseeing the day-to-day sausage and smokehouse operations.