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Morrilton Packing executive named to industry board.

IT'S BEEN REPORTED THAT AT least one Washington, D.C., restaurant now serves Mountain Valley Spring Water instead of Evian since the presidential election of Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.

When Clinton and the so-called "Arkansas Armada" take over the nation's capital during the inaugural ceremonies in January, a few other things Arkansas will be evident.

For one, several Petit Jean hams will be available. The hams, well-known in Arkansas, are made by the Morrilton Packing Co.

The Clinton connection in Washington is appreciated, but business has been good just the same, says David Ruff, company general manager.

"We're really going great guns," Ruff says. "Our holiday business has almost doubled in the last seven years. It's been mostly hams. For one thing, we're one of the few places in the country that makes a good ham without adding water. People know that.

Clinton "hasn't really had an impact," Ruff adds. "Not yet, anyway, although I understand through a distributor that there may be a few hams in Washington during the inaugural proceedings."

Ruff, who took over the 64-year-old family business in the mid-1980s from his father, the late Ed Ruff, also is "going great guns."

Recently, the 45-year-old Ruff was appointed to a three-year membership on the board of directors of the influential Southwest Meat Association. He is the only Arkansan on the 16-member board, based in Arlington, Texas.

The Southwest Meat Association represents meat packing companies in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

The 35-year-old association provides support to the meat industry. It promotes sound industry practices in such areas as compliance with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations and working relationships with animal welfare groups.

"We try to stay out of politics, but there are some educational efforts in dealing with governmental agencies," Ruff says. "It's not a Who's Who thing, but it gives you an opportunity to be involved in some aspects of the industry."

All in the Family

According to Ed Phelan, who handles public relations for Morrilton Packing, the Southwest Meat Association is a separate body from the better-known, higher-profile American Meat Institute. That national trade association, headquartered in Washington, represents the interests of packers and processors of meat and other animal protein products.

Apparently, that group handles the politics.

David Ruff is the latest member of his family to run Morrilton Packing. The company was founded in 1928 by Felix Schlosser, a cousin to David Ruff's grandmother. Schlosser's company was then called Morrilton Meat Market and Sausage Factory.

"My dad and his brother started their careers delivering meat on their bicycles," Ruff says. "Dad was 12 and my uncle was 11. I kind of grew up around it, too."

After graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with an industrial engineering degree in 1970, Ruff worked for Campbell Soup Co. in Fayetteville and Morton Frozen Foods in Russellville. He returned to his family's company in 1984 -- just in time to oversee the construction of a new, 48,000-SF plant. It was completed in April 1987.

Besides hams, Morrilton Packing makes a full line of cooked sausage items, including bologna, wieners, salami, summer sausage, smoked sausage and luncheon loaves.
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Title Annotation:David Ruff, general manager of Morrilton Packing Co.; Southwest Meat Association
Author:Webb, Kane
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 7, 1992
Words:526
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