Thomas D’Antonio, founder of Thom’s Jerky, always had a personal passion for making jerky. While employed by Synthes & Johnson and Johnson, Thom would sell his home made beef jerky on the side. His delicious jerky was enjoyed equally by family and friends. After more than 20 years as an IT professional, Thom decided to quit his day job and start a jerky business in 2016, setting up shop in a 1,200 square foot facility in the Marchwood Shopping Center in Exton.

Numerous state, local and federal requirements must be met before Thom could offer product for sale on the retail and wholesale levels. Thom had to deal with the USDA, PA Department of Agriculture and the Chester County Department of Health. Regulations must be met for a certified kitchen where the products are prepared. Proper packaging and labeling must be met to sell the products at retail. Strict USDA guidelines and limitations must be met to sell at wholesale. And, since Thom’s retail business sold PA Lottery tickets as well, he also had to deal with the PA Lottery folks.

If the business startup issues and regulatory requirements weren’t enough to discourage him, Thom experienced a series of successive heart attacks that would certainly have derailed him. Not so with Thom, who persevered.  While Thom’s wife, Laurie, took over the shop in her off hours from her career at Devon Veterinary Hospital, Thom got medical treatment. With the help of family, friends and neighbors, Thom was able to keep his business open.  

Today, Thom’s Jerky offers a fairly extensive product mix that includes beef jerky, fruit jerky and vegetable jerky with retail in person or online. Wholesale sales of Fruit and Vegetable jerky is currently in the works. Thom’s Jerky has even won the Main Line Today‘s Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs – BEST JERKY 2018 CRITICS’-PICK.

Thom employs several part time people, but still does the “secret” marinating. Although sales were increasing, Thom recognized that the business was not operating efficiently. For example, while sales were up, the business was still not profitable. He re-established contact with his SCORE mentors Dave Houseman and John Nelson in 2018, who helped Thom to improve the business operation, accounting and profitability. By consolidating manufacturing processes and minimizing product waste, Thom’s Jerky expanded its product offerings to include freshly ground beef, soups and chili’s made from scratch, by utilizing the beef trimmings from his Jerky processing. Furthermore, a review of the cost structure revealed that a price increase was required. With SCORE’s help, Thom’s Jerky became profitable for the first time in the 3rd quarter of 2018.

How SCORE Helped: 

Thom recognized that the business was not operating efficiently. For example, while sales were up, the business was still not profitable. He re-established contact with his SCORE mentors Dave Houseman and John Nelson in 2018, who helped Thom to improve the business operation, accounting and profitability. By consolidating manufacturing processes and minimizing product waste