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Jon Surman heads National Beef Tama operations

September 14, 2019
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"I came here June 5 for a visit, the transaction closed on June 10, so I never left," Jon Surman, the new general manger at Iowa Premium, explains his move to take over duties in Tama. National Beef, the 4th largest beef packer in the United States, bought Iowa Premium which had reopened in October, 2014, after it had been shuttered for some 10 years.

Surman says the Iowa Premium goal under National Beef ownership remains to continue to produce the high quality farm-raised Black Angus for which it has built a well-respected market.

National Beef CEO, Tim Klein is committed to keeping the Iowa Premium brand. Klein, himself, a native Iowan, wants consumers to know "It's family farm raised, corn-fed Black Angus Iowa beef."

Article Photos

Jon Surnam

News-Herald photos/John Speer

Surman has 20 experience of management in the beef industry working for Cargill and the past three years for National Beef. He was involved in management twice in Dodge City, Kan. for a total of 15 years and also in Friona and Corpus Christi, Texas. With National Beef he was assistant manager of a plant with a daily kill of 6,200 head which employed 3,000.

The Tama plant currently employs 850 and processes 1,140 head daily. Surman says they are focused on consistently looking for better technology to improve working conditions and efficiencies.

The Iowa Premium workforce is now made up of 30% who live locally, 27% from Cedar Rapids and 26% from Marshalltown. The remaining 17% are made up from a variety of locations in the surrounding area.

Surman says the company would like to see more employees living locally. However, just as Katherine Ollendieck, Tama County Economic Development director, told the Board of Supervisors recently, available housing is a number one issue.

The Surman family has found a home here however, relocating to rural Tama County. They have bought a property east of Tama-Toledo. Jon and his wife, Brandi, have three sons, ages 13, 11 and 8 who are attending South Tama schools and all are involved in football. Brandi is a substitute teacher and bus driver. Both Jon and Brandi are Texas natives.

He says a warning he has heard is about the severity of Iowa winters. He says this may be new to the family but remembers an inch of snow in Dodge City could amount to some big drifts because of the wind.

About National Beef Packing Co.:

National Beef Packing Company, LLC: based in Kansas City, Mo., has operations in Liberal, Dodge City, and Kansas City, Kansas; Hummels Wharf, Pennsylvania; Moultrie, Georgia; North Baltimore, Ohio and St. Joseph, Missouri. National Beef, with approximately 8,400 employees, processes and markets fresh beef, beef by-products and consumer ready products for domestic and international markets. In fiscal year 2018, National Beef generated sales of $7.5 billion.



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