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Meat processing plant has new owners

The old Chevy pickup, familiar to many Kenmare residents, will still be seen around town hauling custom processed meat or a hog for butchering, but the drivers will be Eric and Amy Seykora now, instead of Arlen Gartner.

10/12/11 (Wed)

Seykoras are new owners . . . The locker plant in Kenmare is
now under the operation of new owners Eric and Amy Seykora,
pictured above with their sons Bowen, 5, and Laken, 3. The Seykoras purchased the business from Arlen and Elaine Gartner on September 30th
and plan to continue all butchering and custom processing services. 


By Caroline Downs
The old Chevy pickup, familiar to many Kenmare residents, will still be seen around town hauling custom processed meat or a hog for butchering, but the drivers will be Eric and Amy Seykora now, instead of Arlen Gartner.
In a transaction finalized September 30th, the Seykoras, of Kenmare, purchased the local locker plant from Arlen and Elaine Gartner. The business has been renamed Seykora’s Meat Processing.
The pickup went with the sale.
Arlen threw in a little of his own assistance and expertise, too.
“I’m still helping,” he said. “We’re going to work together and help them get started.”
The Seykoras actually began cutting meat with Arlen at the locker early in September. Eric is also employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a wildlife specialist and handles that position from his home office. Amy works seasonally at the fertilizer plant in Ross and intends to return there on a limited basis next spring.
However, the couple was looking for a way to stay closer to home and their sons Bowen, 5, and Laken, 3. The Seykoras lived in Stanley, but relocated to Kenmare earlier this year and purchased a home in July.
“We want to spend more time with our family,” Amy said. She added that the locker operation will give them some flexibility in their schedule, which includes time for hunting, fishing and camping trips with the boys.
They’re also interested in keeping butchering and processing services available to local customers. “Butchering is in high demand right now,” said Amy.
Eric shook his head as he talked about the recent closings of meat shops in Ray and Minot. “There are not many people who would like to get into this business,” he added.
Before moving to North Dakota, the Seykoras lived in Douglas, Wyoming, where they cut and processed meat. Eric brings 10 years of experience to his new business, mostly with wild game, while Amy has been doing related chores like deboning, wrapping and labelling for the last five years.
She intends to work at the locker full-time, with help from her father Russell Fenske of Michigan. “He may go home later this winter,” she said, laughing. Eric plans to put his hours in at the plant during evenings and weekends.
The Seykoras will process wild game and do other custom meat cutting. “We’ll have all the jerkies and sausages, like Arlen did,” said Eric, “and we will be going onsite to butcher.”
“We’ve had a little bit of everything already,” Amy said. “Our first official job was an elk.”
During the last few weeks, they’ve also processed a moose, four elk, antelope, and some hog and beef orders. “It’s been crazy since we’ve opened,” said Eric.
The couple is offering standard cutting and processing services at this time. “Right now, it’s just the usual for sausage,” Eric said, “but we will get more specialized later on.”
The couple expressed their gratitude both to Arlen Gartner, who shows up at the plant most days and joins them on trips to butcher, and Larry Melgaard, who first suggested they purchase the locker plant in Kenmare. “Larry has been very supportive of us moving here,” said Eric. “When we were living in Stanley, he called and said he had this place for sale.”
Former owner Arlen Gartner said the sale was good for both parties. “It was time for me to get out of this business,” he said, “but it’s a business that’s needed in town and you hate to lose something like that because you never gain it back.”
He and his wife Elaine purchased the locker plant from Clyde and Hazel Golde in 1997. “I will miss it,” Arlen admitted. “We have a lot of great customers, and I’ve been fortunate to have the help I did have for a long time.”
He predicted the Seykoras would do well with business. “I’ve gained a lot of clientele through the years,” he said, “and I hope they have the same kind of relationships with those customers.”
The Seykoras know they’ll be busy cutting and wrapping in their immediate future, but they’re also looking ahead. “Eventually, we’d like to redo this building,” Eric said, listing new windows and siding to start.
“We’d like to finish painting the building and then upgrade the equipment as we can,” said Amy.
She talked about Seykora’s Meat Processing becoming a successful business with a strong reputation. “Then, we’ll have Bowen and Laken take it over!” she added, with another laugh.
The Seykoras can be contacted for any orders. Customers should call 701-621-0271 or 701-621-0033 to discuss their meat processing needs.