Johnston’s Meat Market is a retail meat market, restaurant, and custom processing and slaughtering plant located in Monticello, Florida. The business has been in continuous operation for 86 years since its doors opened in 1926. Currently, Johnston’s largest market is retail consumers in its physical store, as well as online customers. They have a large customer following that is loyal to the family sausage recipe and other smoked meats. Johnston’s also has a large turkey fund-raising service that drives many new customers to its store.

The owner, Hal Bennett, has a vision to expand his operations into a full-service, USDA-approved slaughtering facility. There are no full-service facilities within 160 miles of the proposed plant. By obtaining USDA certification, the wholesale market would become available on a national scale. Through his intimate knowledge of the business and direct feedback from the market, Bennett has determined there is a high demand for this type of facility in the area.

Bennett is working with the FSBDC at Florida A &M University to accelerate the growth of his business. The lead consultant, Jonathon Wiggins, and FSBDC Regional Director Keith Bowers have assisted Bennett with obtaining funding for the expansion, submitting a 504 loan application to Florida First Capital Finance Corporation. The next step for Wiggins and Bowers is to conduct an in-depth business health assessment of Johnston’s Meat Market.

“I was introduced to Jonathon Wiggins and Keith Bowers by our Executive Director Julie Conley (Jefferson County Economic Development Council) in Monticello,” said Bennett. “I never thought that someone would listen to my story about our 86 year old business. They listened to everything I had to say and had an open mind to what I am trying to do with our business. Also, they listened to my financial needs in this economic down time. It is a really good feeling having someone from the SBDC help me along with this process.”

Upon completion of the expansion, Johnston’s Meat Market expects to create eight full-time and two part-time jobs, and revenue is projected to increase 50-percent the first year and 100-percent by year two. Bennett says he is looking forward to developing the relationship with the SBDC as he believes he can achieve his goals with their assistance.