Matador Processors: Peppers and Prayers
Originally published: May 14, 2015
by Molly M. Fleming, Journal Record Columnist
BLANCHARD, OK – Matador Processors Inc. co-founder Betty Wood was beside herself when talking about her company being purchased.
"I wanted to keep my little company going," she said. "I just took a pepper and started this thing 40 years ago."
Wood and her husband, Clif Wood, founded the company after they had bad chile rellenos at a local restaurant. Matador uses Mexico-grown peppers in its products, which are sold to distributors such as Ben E. Keith Foods and Sysco Corp.
Seven years into their new business, Clif passed away. Running the business became a little too much for Betty, and she had to file bankruptcy in late 2013. She said she received a lot of insults after she filed, but she knew it was what she had to do The company was set to go to auction May 19 and be sold by Chicago-based Loeb Winternitz.
Wood's said her prayers were answered earlier this month when Edmond resident Rick Jackson and his Iowa-based business partner, Chris Allensworth, operating as DLJ Investments, purchased the company. The company will be operated both as Midwest Performance Pack and as Matador Processors Inc.
Matador has 20 employees, though it had 49 at one point, Betty Wood said. She always had less than 50 to avoid government regulations, she said.
"I don't have any children, so my employees are my children," Wood said. "We hit bottom, but we're on our way up."
Jackson said Wood will continue to work as a consultant and spokeswoman.
The name and other personal property were purchased for $350,000. The real property was sold for $400,000 cash. Midwest Performance is leasing the property for six months while all the final details are arranged. It will pay lease payments of $6,000 per month, according to court documents in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
BancFirst had a lien against the real property for $209,157. First Fidelity Bank had a lien for $330,734 against the personal and real property. Sysco Corp. also had a financial claim against the company for $64,312.
But those debts seem to be in the past. Jackson said he and Allensworth plan to invest $2 million in the property and will bring in 20 more product lines. He said they plan to produce products for two other companies, so the job count will expand to 60 by March 2016.
"We will automate the lines," he said. "We will be very competitive because of the low overhead. We think we can be a major player."
Allensworth will serve as the president of engineering and Jackson will be the president of operations. The co-owners have a combined 50 years in the meat industry.
"We're looking forward to the adventure here of getting this thing updated and started," he said. "We have a facility in Nebraska for sale. When we saw this facility for sale, we latched onto it."
He said they plan to expand the company into retail lines as well. Wood said she's excited about what the new owners will do with the company.
"They bought it two weeks ago and they've already got it turned around," she said. "It's so exciting for me because I was so desperate. I can see my dream being fulfilled by someone who has the money to do it."