ASHLAND — A longtime meat packing company is getting back to its roots by making a move to Ashland — and to welcome them, City Council is gifting the company a 10-year tax incentive.
Heffelfinger Meats has already begun construction on a $1.7 million facility along Commerce Parkway. When done, it will sell solely meats packaged by the company that started in Ashland in 1934.
The tax abatement deal — which is typical in Ashland for new businesses — reduces the real estate tax bill by 50% for 10 years.
“This is a significant investment in our community and we welcome them to Ashland,” said Council President Steve Workman, moments before council unanimously approved the property’s tax abatement.
The 5,500 square-foot facility will be located near a new apartment complex and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles building.
Rick Heffelfinger, 63, of Vermillion said moving into Ashland with a retail meat outlet has been on his mind for around four years now. He believes the property is the right location, with new housing and the CrossFit 419’s gym nearby.
“We’re getting back to our roots,” Heffelfinger said. “And we liked the traffic count on Route 250 and the access to get in and out — there’s a lot of growth at that end of town.”
The facility in Jeromesville, which is touted as Ohio’s largest harvesting facility under the state’s meat inspection division, also has a small retail market. However, the Ashland site will be double the size, carrying fresh and frozen meats, including bison, Heffelfinger said.
Heffelfinger hopes the new meat outlet will serve the company well into the future. Currently, retail meat sales account for 5% of revenue. The rest of its business comes from wholesale orders to outlets in Columbus, Cleveland, Akron and Canton, among others.
The Ashland site will be the company’s second. Heffelfinger said he plans to continue operating out of the Jeromesville facility.
“There’s a pretty good chance (the Ashland store) will become our first priority in years to come,” Heffelfinger said.
The meat store’s manager will be Mary Anne Kettering, who formerly owned Mary Anne’s Meat Market in Lexington. Kettering recently sold her outfit and has taken up a job with Heffelfinger’s.
Mary Anne's Meat Market will continue to operate under the same name and location, she said.
"I'm honored to go to work for the Heffelfinger family," she said, adding the physical toll of running the meat market in Lexington caught up with her after 44 years.
In her new role in Ashland, which happens to be minutes from her beef cattle farm, she will be in charge of customer service, bookwork and food safety paperwork.
"Don Heffelfinger taught me how to cut meat back in the 80s," Kettering said. "I'm excited for their new store. Ashland needs a good meat market and they're gonna get it."
Construction on the new building began in June. The store is expected to open by November, Heffelfinger said. He estimated the store will create up to six full-time positions and six part-time positions.