The Freshman Class Of ’97

This year's neophytes include an operator of convenience stores, a technical services contractorand a former football pro turned sausage magnate

that he would be returning a company back to the ranks of the BE 100s. Through a Gerlen subsidiary, OSI Industries Inc. offered Duerson the opportunity to purchase 51% of Fair Oaks Farms. OSI had just bought the majority interest of the company from Frank Brooks, the former consultant who ran the operation as Brooks Sausage, shifting the ownership into white hands. OSI sought a “diversity” joint venture, and Duerson fit the bill in experience and investment capital, paying between $1.5$3 million for his stake in the concern. (Fair Oaks supplies pre-cooked sausage patties to McDonald’s, which currently makes up 94% of its business.)

After Duerson took over the company, he designed a rigorous six-month training program to learn everything he could about the meat processing business. He worked 10-hour days, gaining his education in tasks ranging from slaughtering hogs and shipping orders to overseeing quality control and keeping the books. “I wanted to make sure that I knew my business.” he says. “It also gave me an opportunity to show my employees that I wouldn’t make them do anything that I wasn’t ready to do.”

Now Duerson has his sights on increasing Fair Oaks’ capacity. Besides supplying McDonald’s and domestic institutions, the manufacturer has entered into off-shore agreements to distribute patties to Maxim’s, a mammoth Hong Kong-based food services company, and Otsuka, a large Japanese pharmaceutical firm that owns a chain of convenience stores. The company also gained Halaal certification in order to capitalize on selling turkey sausage products to the Muslim populations of Singapore and Indonesia. And in June, Fair Oaks Farms is unveiling a line of retail food products, Duerson’s Fair Oaks Farms Sausage and Double D Sausages. The multi-flavored sausages will first be distributed in Chicago and Indiana to cash in on Duerson’s celebrity status in the region.

To handle this increased activity, Duerson has acquired $220,000 worth of new sausage linking equipment and additional production capabilities through a facility in Iowa. By doing so, he believes Fair Oaks will be a $100 million company by the turn of the century. “Our company mission statement is the same one I had when I played football, `Never be satisfied,’” says Duerson. “Whether it was practice or a real game, I always wanted to be a better player when I walked off the field than when I walked on. I want the same to hold true for Fair Oaks Farms.” With roughly 36.2% growth in sales since he purchased the company 18 months ago, it appears Duerson is heading for the goal post for one more touchdown.

PLUGGED INTO HEALTH CARE
One of the most pressing issues to face the medical community is the prevention and treatment of worldwide plagues like AIDS. Social & Scientific Systems (SSS) may just be what the doctor ordered.
The 19-year-old Bethesda, Maryland-based concern provides technical and information support services to such government agencies as the National Institutes of Health’s Office of AIDS Research, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (HCPR) and the National Institute of

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