If I had stayed with Oscar Meyer, I am sure everyone would be more in love with me, as it was the best company I ever worked for. Though it was the Oscar Meyer Wiener that made Oscar Meyer famous, it was the Oscar Meyer marketing concepts that became the foundation of Knightro Powered Marketing.

The Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile.

While speaking to a farm group in Iowa, I once misspoke the phrase, "It was Oscar Meyer’s wiener that made him famous." The crowd just roared with laughter. But little did I know that it was more about the phraseology than it was about my ability to speak. It wasn’t until after the program that the error of my ways was pointed out.

After that point in time, it kind of became one of my standard jokes in crowd appropriate presentations. That was my job as Livestock Promotion Manager to speak all over the country on behalf of the Oscar Meyer Livestock Procurement Department. Though the job entailed a lot more than speaking, it was what I enjoyed most.

Oscar Meyer was considered the Utopia of  livestock marketing programs, so it was an easy job to sell the best. There’s nothing that can give you confidence like that of knowing you’re representing the best in the industry. It was my job to make sure the company maintained that image and sell it to our clientele.

One of the more important aspects was the development of one of the industry’s first grade and yield programs. Having corroborated that effort with many outstanding management personal, we came up with an industry standard that has stood the test of time and is still the basic format for all my teaching and marketing seminars.

As much as I preach the power of knowledge, when it comes to profitable livestock marketing, I was never smart enough to stay with the company that was responsible for everything I had become. Instead, I got itchy feet to go back to North Dakota as a county extension agent.

Fortunately there were those in the company that knew me better than I did, and I was asked to come back. It was a week day afternoon, while attending a county extension workshop at NDSU, that I received word from the corporate level livestock procurement office in Madison — that the company would like for me to reconsider coming back to work for them. The question from them was this, "Do you still think North Dakota is the best place the world to live?"

I hadn’t been back in ND for long, but long enough to realize that I had just left the best company in the world. So without hesitation, I accepted their offer to come back.

The offer was a promotion to relocate in Davenport, Iowa. Without a doubt, it was the best job decision I ever made. It was here that I met some of the people that have made the greatest influence on my life — not only lifetime friends, but mentors for which I will be forever grateful.

Getting involved with hog producers at the grass roots level was like opening up a whole new frontier. Unlike the urban feel of Madison, this was the rural feel of hands-on production. Some of the best hog producers in the nation resided in this area. There was Henry Co., Illinois, on one side of the river and Scott Co., Iowa, on the other — the hog capital of the world. I was in hog heaven!

These people weren’t satisfied with being the best; they wanted to get better. So what a great opportunity to incorporate Oscar Meyer into the mix of things. Through education, marketing seminars, and the advent of carcass shows, the quality of hogs produced in that area was second to none. It was a win/win partnership between Oscar Meyer and hog producers. The producers never lacked for cooperation and sponsorship, and Oscar Meyer was rewarded with the best hogs that money could buy.

It was here that we kicked off value-based marketing; fairly compensating producers for premium production. What was started there is now the norm in the industry.

Much like the gold standard is to our US currency, Oscar Meyer has become the standard of excellence for which the entire meat and livestock industry measures success. Likewise, it has become my measure of achievement in every endeavor of my profession.

Though I have regrets for leaving the company, I have no regrets for having experienced a working relationship that included both hog procurement and producer relations. These are the experiences for which I will continue to share with livestock producers that are eager to learn and become more profitable. 

"OHHH—I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener, that is what I’d truly like to BE-EE-EE, cause if I were an Oscar Meyer wiener, everyone would be more in love with me."

And OHHHH—how much more would I be in love with me if I had stayed with Oscar Meyer, as the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.


PONY TALES by PONTY: "Tatooed"

(more insightful stories written by Ken Knight) 

Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.


For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF,  River  Falls,  WI 54022,  phone  toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480,  fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].