Monogram plant plays role in parent company’s award

Monogram Snacks in Martinsville has grown rapidly since its parent company, Monogram Foods, opened the plant in 2009.

“We’ve gone from 115 to approximately 600 employees at the plant,” says Karl Schledwitz, chairman and chief executive officer of Memphis-based Monogram Foods, which employs nearly 3,000 people in eight manufacturing facilities in seven states.

The Martinsville plant makes meat snacks and meat sticks, including a full array of jerky products. “We produce over 100 different products in Martinsville,” Schledwitz says. Those products include Monogram brands such as Wild Bill’s and Hannah’s as well as private-label snacks. Monogram Snacks also “co-manufactures” products for other brands.

The growth at Monogram Snacks hasn’t gone unnoticed by the meat processing industry. Monogram Foods recently was named the industry’s 2017 Processor of the Year. The recognition honors the company’s growth as well as its industry leadership in investment and innovation.

The Martinsville plant offers evidence of that investment. In June, Monogram Snacks began operating a $11 million wastewater facility, which will allow the plant to continue its growth.

The project includes an anaerobic digester that performs a series of biological processes with the capability of producing enough methane gas to generate 400 kilowatts of power for the Appalachian Power grid. “The wastewater facility is about 400 percent larger than our previous facility,” Schledwitz says.

In planning the project, the company qualified for investment energy credits as well as new-market tax credits. “We are one of the first companies in the country to do both together,” Schledwitz says. “The project wasn’t a big job creator because it only takes a few people to run the facility, but it does enable us to add jobs going forward to expand our capacity. We have plans to grow even more in Martinsville.”

Schledwitz says he enjoys doing business in Virginia. “There hasn’t been a state that has been better to deal with,” he says.

The CEO also praises the Martinsville-area workforce. “They are better skilled than anywhere else we have gone,” he says. “A lot of people that were trained in the textile and furniture industries became available because of the decline of those industries in the area.”