For the business and marketing junior Johnathon Jones, his jerky business – Jerky Jones – is more than just a sideline: it’s a connection with family and his place in the military community.
Jones grew up with his father in the military, which meant frequent moves and a considerable distance from the extended family. When the family got together, Jones’ uncle – also a member of the military – jerked as a parting gift for the street. The familial importance of beef jerky inspired Jones to make and sell it himself.
“One day I asked [my uncle] I added a few things to the recipe myself, tweaked it, and that’s how I got the recipe I have today, ”said Jones.
Jones started making jerky beef and selling it to family and friends when he was in high school but stopped when he was busy with other jobs and went to college. After his freshman year, Jones moved out of the dorms to an apartment with enough space to be jerky and decided to take them back up.
In the fall semester of 2020, Jones started developing Jerky Jones after purchasing a high-quality dehydrator. He’s done everything in the jerky manufacturing process at home, from marinating, slicing, and dehydrating roasts to printing labels and packaging the jerk. The meat, Jones said, needs to marinate for up to 14 hours and dehydrate an additional seven hours.
“The best way to explain the process is much lower with high peaks in the work,” said Jones. “It’s definitely a lot of work peaks followed by this long wait.”
Because the process can be lengthy, Jones manufactures batches every two weeks with specific restocking dates listed on the Jerky Jones website. He currently offers beef dried meat in Original and Sizzling Spice flavored with cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika.
In addition to the time Jones spent jerking, he recently invested in a domain and created a website for Jerky Jones. He also spends a lot of time working on the company’s social media accounts, which Jones says has become increasingly important in the face of the pandemic.
“When I was in high school, it was a lot of word of mouth; I could walk around with a small bag handing out samples, talk to people, and have more of that personal sales experience, ”said Jones. “But with the pandemic. . . Even if I have access to the campus and am so close to all students, I cannot have the same level of interaction with them. So I have to do a lot more marketing on social media. “
The company’s connection to the military extends beyond a childhood memory: Jones credits his father’s GI Bill perks for having free time to develop Jerky Jones. As the business grows, he wants to give back to the military community by hiring veterans and raising funds for military families.
“The greatest thing I want [Jerky Jones] At some point, to become, I want to give back to the communities I grew up in, ”said Jones. “I really hope that at some point this business can grow to the point where I can use it as a tool to do all of that.”