A Southern Tradition Rises Out of the Ashes with Help from Bohn

Business was booming for Lord’s Sausage & Country Ham, Inc. last summer. The 75-year old meat processing plant was manufacturing more than 300,000 lbs. of pork sausage, country-cured ham, fresh pork and smoked meat products every month.

Julian Lord established the family business and its 5,000-sq.-ft. plant in 1928. In the early 60s Lord’s son, Roger, came on board and in the mid-80’s both grandsons joined the family business, with Wayne Lord taking on the role of sales executive, while Britt Lord became the company’s purchasing agent.

Lord’s 38 employees, most of who have been with the plant for more than 10 years, have seen the plant grow from 5,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet. Additionally, the company, which began serving one client, Piggly Wiggly Southern, is now providing products for more than 200 local, regional and national clients.

Plant operations and sales were going very well for Lord’s. Throughout the years Piggly Wiggly Southern had remained a client, while more than a dozen other major supermarkets and independent stores in the southeast region were added. Little did anyone realize what was on the horizon.

In early August, a severe storm swept through Dexter. Lord’s Sausage & Country Ham plant became one of its worst victims when a bolt of lightning crashed into the facility, igniting a fire that left the entire building in ashes.

It only took Lord a few hours to secure funding from his insurance company. With the help of family members, loyal employees and local community members, Wayne Lord immediately began the process of rebuilding the plant.

“Some of the most important equip¬ment in a meat processing plant is the refrigeration equipment,” he explained. “You simply can’t operate without it.”

One of the first community members he contacted was Russell Diller, owner of Russell’s Air Conditioning Repair. Diller quickly realized the enormous scope of the project and called Mary Willis, manager of Wholesale Baker Distributing in nearby Macon, Georgia

As a Bohn distributor, Willis had worked with Diller for more than 12 years to meet his refrigeration needs. She, in turn, called Bohn Sales Engineer Ron Andrews, Sr. for some assistance in helping Lord get the plant up and running within as short a time frame as possible.

A meeting was scheduled and when Andrews met with Lord a few days later, Lord was ready for him. On a piece of white meat-wrapping paper, he had drawn a sketch of the new building. He gave Andrews an overview of how the plant manufactured the pork products, where all the equipment should be located, room and door sizes, temperature and humidity requirements, product loads and other information concerning the scope of his needs. He also impressed upon Andrews the urgency of the project. If he didn’t have the plant up and operating within four weeks, his customers would not receive their products. And his refrigeration equipment needs were monumental, including the following Heatcraft evaporators and condensing units:

  • 1 BDT-1000L6C with 2 BHE-550s for the freezer
  • 2 BDT-1000H2Cs with 4 WK-340s for the processing and packaging room
  • 1 BDT-0750H2C with 2 BMA-365s for the shipping area
  • 1 BLV-1500H2C with 4 BME-620s for the cooking area
  • 2 BDT-1000H2Cs with 1 BME-430 for the chill room
  • 2 BDT-0800H2Cs with 2 BMA-510s for the salt room and receiving room

By the following day, Andrews had performed the load calculations for all of the equipment and provided his recommendations and a quote to Lord, who approved the order immediately. Working with Willis, Andrews placed the order and advised Lord about what day the units would arrive at the construction site. Andrews immediately called Heatcraft’s customer service team and shared with them that time was of the essence in getting these refrigerated products manufactured and delivered to the plant.

That’s when Heatcraft’s customer service and manufacturing personnel Sandy Montgerard, Byrecia McKinney, Kerri Rollins, Gene Gaughf and Karen Baldree went into high gear to place the orders and schedule manufacturing and shipping. Their goal was to ensure the equipment was delivered to Lord in a very short time frame.

The majority of the products were manufactured and shipped to Lord’s within the next two days, with the balance being shipped within the next 14 days. Lord was thrilled with the turn-around time.

“Amazingly, we never had to wait on any of the refrigeration equipment. In fact, the Heatcraft products arrived before we were ready to install them,” he said.

Joel Manning, of Manning Refrig¬eration, installed the refrigeration equipment in late August. Lord’s received their first load of meat on September 2 and began processing meat products the following day.

“It was just a great team effort,” said Lord. “I simply can’t thank Ron Andrews, Mary Willis and the entire Heatcraft team enough. They played a major role in ensuring that our entire business was up and running within a few short weeks.”