|Felix Schlosser, front center, with plant workers in the 1930's.|
Ed came onboard full-time in 1930, just in time to witness one of the company’s most important changes. It was then that the company added its wholesale line and adopted the name Morrilton Packing Company. By the time Lonnie followed his brother into full-time employment in 1932, the company had also begun using the Petit Jean brand name. Morrilton Packing maintained both a wholesale operation and a retail market until 1943, at which time the plant was remodeled and the retail market was closed.
As the company grew and progressed through the 1950's and 1960's, Ed and Lonnie became more involved in the management of the business. In 1968, for competitive reasons, they made the decision to stop slaughtering beef cattle and selling dressed beef. This allowed them to focus exclusively on their now-famous pork products.
|David and Ed Ruff, front center, with plant workers after the renovation in 1987.|
After Felix's death in 1968, the Ruff brothers managed the company together until Lonnie died in 1979. It was in ’79 that a malfunctioning ammonia valve caused another major fire. It was not a total loss but did require a lot of rebuilding. After Lonnie’s death, Ed Ruff assumed the role of CEO. Ed's son, David Ruff, who had worked summers and Christmases with the company since the late ‘50s, came on full-time as Plant Manager in 1984 with the assistance of his semi-retired father. Two years later, David oversaw one of the most important milestones in the company’s history: the construction of a brand new, ultra-modern manufacturing plant, which was built from January of 1986 through April of 1987. The new 48,000-square-foot facility represented a 75-percent increase in facility size and a major leap forward in productivity. The expansion also allowed the addition of sliced and vacuum-packed luncheon meats and other products in consumer-size packages.
Ed Ruff died in 1990, at which time David Ruff became CEO & President. He continues in that role today, and has been joined in the company by his son Edward. Today, the company is worlds removed from the small meat market Felix Schlosser began decades ago. Today, and since 1995, the company doesn’t even slaughter its own hogs. Instead, it purchases select, fresh pork cuts, trimmed to exacting specifications, from major packers. Today, the smoking process takes place in rooms where temperature and humidity are rigorously controlled. Today, Morrilton Packing sells its meat via the Internet to places as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. Today, Morrilton Packing employs 70 people, and none of them make deliveries by bicycle.
But, on the other hand, so much has remained the same. Morrilton Packing Company is still owned by the same family, and in fact, is the only privately owned processor of red meats left in Arkansas. Even though the smoking process occurs on climate-controlled smokehouses, the bacon and hams are still smoked for 18 hours with real burning hickory, not the liquid smoke used by many other companies. Even though it ships its products across the country, most of its customers still come from 75 miles around Morrilton.
But there is one thing that has never changed. While Felix Schlosser might have never dreamed his company would ever become what it is today, there is one thing he would still recognize immediately were he still with us. And that’s the taste. “We still do things the old fashioned way, which gives our meats the old fashioned flavor,” said David Ruff. “We don’t use anything but the best quality meats and the best quality ingredients. So if you’re looking for a great hot dog, a great ham, a great smoked sausage with great flavor, we’ve got it.”