SWEDESBORO, N.J. — After starting a spiral ham company with his father that went bankrupt and some bad luck with equipment at his own Southern New Jersey processing plant, Lou Colameco III came up with some recipes and an idea for what would eventually become Wellshire Farms. That first processing plant in Rio Grande, N.J., came with a multitude of unforeseen problems.
“The first thing was we were an hour and a half away from civilization," Mr. Colameco said. "We were in Rio Grande, New Jersey, which is down by Cape May, about as far south as you can go. So delivery to us or delivery to a customer was 90 miles away.”
There were also issues with bookkeepers taking advantage of their computer skills and stealing from the company. Then there was the problem of old equipment breaking down. It was at this point that Mr. Colameco began to think of a different path to his destination.
Mr. Colameco developed his recipes and ideas through research with different spice companies and made a decision.
“That’s when I decided, you know what, I think that I can get somebody that has good equipment to make the product,” he said.
Mr. Colameco had two plants manufacturing product for his Yorkshire brand and sold to Fresh Fields in the mid and late 1990s. With the small amount of money he had left over from his original plant, he paid half up front and half once he got paid. The company worked this way until it was able to just pay people on time. Whole Foods Market eventually bought Fresh Fields, and Mr. Colameco and Yorkshire continued to do business with them. Sales steadily rose, and in 2004, Yorkshire Farms became Wellshire Farms.
“For the first six months of the year we were up 30%," Mr. Colameco said. "We finished the year up 60% after changing our labels over to the company name in July. We spent about nine months thinking about what we were going to do for a Wellshire branded tagline. That’s when we came up with ‘Feel Great, Eat Well.'"
Wellshire Farms’ sliced and whole deli meats have their roots in the health-conscious eating arena. Since the beginning, Mr. Colameco’s deli meat products have striven to be the standard of good-for-you processed meats.