|Privately held family business|
Omaha Steaks International, Inc., known as Omaha Steaks, is a retailer of steaks, seafood, and food gifts. The company is named after the city it was founded in, and the location of its headquarters, Omaha, Nebraska.
The company was founded in 1917 as a butcher shop in Omaha, Nebraska. It is a fifth-generation, privately held family business, that grew to become one of America's largest marketers of beef. Omaha Steaks also owns an affiliate company, World Port Seafood.
J.J. Simon and his son, B.A., came to America to escape antisemitism. Passing through Ellis Island in 1898, they settled in Omaha because of the farmland's similarity to their homeland Riga, Latvia. They worked for nearly 20 years as butchers for other people. In 1917, the family founded Omaha Steaks as a cattle carcass operation at 17th and Douglas Streets.
The Simon family bought a carpentry store, Table Supply Co., as the site for their meat-cutting business. To save money, B.A. moved the two letters "Co" to the right, inserted the word "Meat" and called their new company Table Supply Meat Co. By 1924, the business moved to a larger building at 1211 Howard Street, in the Old Market neighborhood, from which J.J. and B.A. began selling cuts of meat to local supermarkets, national grocery chains, hotel restaurants, and institutional customers.
B.A.'s son, Lester Simon, is credited with introducing Omaha Steaks across the US, when he brokered a deal with the Union Pacific Railroad to begin serving Omaha Steaks in the dining cars of their transcontinental trains in the 1940s. Lester Simon hand-selected the meat for the Union Pacific passenger trains that traveled between Omaha and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Train passengers who ordered Omaha Steaks in Union Pacific's dining cars prompted the company to launch its first mail order ventures - magazine ads and direct mail flyers - in 1952. Lester Simon also began shifting Table Supply's focus from a butcher operation to the marketing of fine cuts of meat.
In 1952, the first mail order operation was launched to serve distant customers. The meat was shipped in wax-lined cartons filled with dry ice. It was not until the early 1960s that insulated shipping containers made of polystyrene and vacuum packaging, became available. In 1961, Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison sent steaks from Table Supply to President John F. Kennedy and all of the governors in the United States. In that same year, Table Supply was honored to be involved in the Culinary Olympics held in Frankfurt, Germany, at which the United States team won the Grand Gold Prize with a dish that featured aged prime ribs of beef provided by Table Supply, thereby earning an international reputation for the Omaha company.
In 1966, when the company moved into its southwest Omaha headquarters at 4400 S. 96th Street, the Simon family changed the name from Table Supply Meat Co. to Omaha Steaks International. The company plant remains at that site. The corporate offices are now at 10909 John Galt Boulevard. In the 1970s, Omaha Steaks added inbound and outbound call centers and a mail order industry-first toll-free customer service line. An automated order entry system was installed in 1987.
Omaha Steaks opened its first retail store in Omaha in 1976 when buying a product from the company was limited to eating at certain restaurants that offered their products, or ordering meats from its mail-order catalog. Omaha Steaks underwent another expansion phase in the 1980s and 1990s, consolidating administration and marketing in two new buildings.
In 1985 the company ventured beyond Nebraska, opening a retail store in Houston. Omaha Steaks now has more than 85 retail stores in 29 states. Another area where Omaha Steaks focused on growing was its corporate sales unit, which it expanded upon in the mid-1990s. Omaha Steaks created a separate corporate catalog that was intended to serve the corporate buyers who were already customers. The effort soon began to pay off for Omaha Steaks. In just two years, the company was able to grow its corporate sales by 50 percent.
In 2004, Omaha Steaks began selling pet treats.
Omaha Steaks are shipped in insulated coolers chilled with ice. The company also operates retail stores, which carry the same products as offered through mail order. The company uses a variety of marketing techniques, including mail order, telesales, telemarketing, retail sales and Internet-based sales. Besides its retail stores, food-service operation, catalogs and direct mail, Omaha Steaks also includes business-to-business gifts and incentives, special markets and a website.
Bruce Simon is President and Chief Operating Officer of Omaha Steaks. Todd Simon, responsible for marketing programs and employee training, is senior vice president.
Omaha Steaks is listed by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce as the 22nd largest employer in the city of Omaha. The company hires 2,500 seasonal employees. Some of which are hired to add to company's permanent work force of about 1,800. Omaha Steaks is the largest small parcel direct shipper of gourmet foods in the US. Its 400-item product line generates revenue of about $450 million in annual sales- a total of about 4 million packages a year.
Omaha Steaks was an early adopter of internet marketing since the 1990s, using CompuServe for online sales. Omahasteaks.com, launched in 1995, and is the company's fastest growing business segment. The company became part of the Microsoft Network in 1998. In 2011, Omaha Steaks launched a website for mobile devices and released the Steak Time applications for iPhone and iPad. Steak Time features how-to videos, tips, and recipes.
In 2010, Omaha Steaks was granted a trademark for the phrase "The Official Sponsor of Tailgating."
Omaha Steaks has been either featured or mentioned on the television shows Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, The West Wing, Oprah, The View, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Rules of Engagement, The Dr. Phil Show, The Rachael Ray Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Modern Family, Seinfeld, Live with Regis and Kelly, Tosh.0, The King of Queens, The Simpsons and Fear the Walking Dead. Also, it has been referenced in the movies DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and Up in the Air.
The Simon family has a consistent record of supporting local and national cultural arts organizations such as Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts,Film Streams,Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha Performing Arts Society, the Omaha Summer Arts Festival, Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Theatre Company for Young People, Opera Omaha, and the Santa Fe Opera. Omaha Steaks supports American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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