Omaha Steaks: Focus on Fulfillment
Restaurants around the country began requesting the meats, and the food service business added sales centers in the burgeoning Southeast, Southwest and Southern Midwest regions of the country.
Rising demand from the general public prompted Lester to establish the company’s first mail-order venture in 1952, shipping product via train and packaged in ice-filled, wax-lined cardboard boxes. The meat cuts themselves were wrapped in white butcher paper.
Three technological advancements made during the 1950s and ‘60s helped Table Supply Meats expand its direct mail operations even further: direct parcel shipping, polystyrene shipping coolers and vacuum packaging. In 1963, company executives sent their first direct mail fliers and catalogs, and a year later added color and more product offerings to the mailings.
The consumer business continued growing, so in 1966 the company bought an even larger plant and headquarters, one with more room for beef breaking (cutting whole carcasses into tenderloins), order processing and freezing. With the new facilities came a new name: Omaha Steaks International. Aptly so, because the company’s efficiency and success had gained global renown. During the 1960s, groups from countries such as Chile and France came to tour the company’s facilities. Omaha Steaks even played host to seven Russian meat-packing experts who toured the operation in 1960, despite the ongoing Cold War.
On the home front, business kept expanding. Spurred by customer demand, Omaha Steaks opened its first retail store in Omaha in 1976, and in 1985, that division took a step out of Nebraska to Houston, TX (there currently are 75 Omaha Steaks retail stores across the United States).
In 1975, the company opened its first inbound call center, and then added an outbound telemarketing department three years later. In 1979, it became one of the first companies in the country to offer a toll-free customer service number.