Our Town Edgewood: Edgewood Locker sees increasing growth

The locker is now in its third generation of ownership.
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT
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EDGEWOOD, Iowa (KCRG) - Whether it’s brats, deer sticks, or ground beef, you’ve likely had something from the Edgewood Locker. For more than five decades, the locker has been processing meat for eastern Iowans and it’s seen a lot of growth and expansion.

“Our business was founded in 1966 by my grandparents Tom and Joan Kerns, they were in a little store in downtown Edgewood. And through the years, they continued to grow it little by little,” Luke Kerns, Edgewood Locker co-owner, said.

“When we bought the locker, we bought a grinder and would grind the hamburger and a saw and rented the building,” Joan Kerns, original Edgewood Locker owner, said.

The Kerns built a new facility on the west edge of Edgewood in 1997. Luke Kerns said that the facility was updated about 10 times.

Demand for meat from the Edgewood Locker has driven the business to expand over the last 50-plus years. About a year ago, Kerns said they ran out of room, so they moved to the current 19,000-square-foot facility at 609 West Union Street.

“In more recent years, a lot of our growth has been around two other categories,” Luke Kerns said. “Those are our wholesale business, so that’s where we’re taking the meat you see out front and selling in retailers who are putting it on their shelves to sell to their customers. So this week we are delivering to 70 different retailers within 120 miles.”

The pandemic drove demand for more custom processing.

“These folks are hoping to find some meat that they know is locally raised and in a way they prefer. They like knowing that person that raised it,“ Kerns said.

The locker has 60 full-time employees working to meet that demand.

“Without our staff, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Kerns said.

There is so much demand that you’ll have to wait months to get custom-processed pork or beef.

“Maybe we’ll have cancellations that would allow us to sneak someone in,” Kerns said. “But otherwise, we’re full and we’ve been full for over a year for 2023.”

He says the next steps for the facility will be to grow capacity so it can take on more custom orders. It’s growth that his grandma, one of the original owners, says she’s happy to see.

“It’s been very humbling to see what it’s become, we feel very blessed,“ Joan Kerns said.

The locker is now in its third generation of ownership. The original owners’ two sons and four grandchildren have all bought into the business. The locker also got U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected earlier this month, so it can now deliver outside of Iowa.