Regular customers at Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion may recognize the smiling face behind the meat counter as belonging to Jerry Dean Hess.
Hess has been the meat manager and cutter for Greg and Mitch Carlson for 26 years, almost since the day they bought Dave’s IGA from Dave Jackson in December 1991.
His first job was at the former IBP packing plant in Emporia, where he worked on the “blade line” deboning meat. He spent two years working for the city of Marion before starting at Carlsons’.
Meat comes boxed and vacuum-sealed, and Hess cuts it up for sale to customers.
He makes ground chuck, which he says is leaner than ground beef, from scraps left over from trimming cuts.
Ground beef shipped boxed in 10-pound tubes is reground and divided into smaller packages.
“I get hungry working with this beef,” he said. “I’ve done it a lot and am pretty experienced, so it comes easy for me.”
He said some people might think he has an easy job, but there are times it can be stressful, like when there’s a big sale and he has to keep the meat counter stocked while also filling special orders.
The job requires keeping records of many things, including the amount and kind of ground beef, twice-weekly truck deliveries, and leftover meat.
Hess, 48, grew up in Marion and is married to Jennifer. He has three stepchildren. Jenevieve and James Corona are students at Kansas State University, and Joeb, 18, is a senior at Berean Academy.
Hess isn’t sure what the future holds for him, but of one thing he is sure.
“I could do this in my sleep now,” he said.