10 N Martingale Rd. Suite 400 60173
Schaumburg, IL
60173 USA

Corporate Business Solutions Client Profile: Meet Dave Alwan Of Echo Valley Meats

Dave Alwan, Founder, Echo Valley Meats

Dave likes to share that he’s the third generation in the meat business.  His family has been in the food industry since 1947 when his grandfather launched the Alwan and Sons Meat Company, a grocery store and butcher shop in Peoria, IL.

As his father says, being in the food business just made sense—everyone needs to eat.  His family also branched out into fast food for a while, opening up one of the first KFC franchises in 1972. By age 11, Dave was learning his knife skills, cutting stew meat and roasts in the butcher shop.

Around age 22, Dave purchased a 150 acre farm, his first farm.  Dave had worked out a deal with the 87 year old woman who owned the farm that in exchange for a good price, she would be able to live rent-free in the farm house for the rest of her life.  She called him ‘Sonny’ and she lived long enough to take joy in seeing him bring the farm back to life.

Quality Control:  From Conception to Consumption

This was the start of his vision of producing the highest quality meat from conception to consumption, becoming both a farmer and a cattleman.  The future of offering a full range of gourmet gifts, from hickory smoked hams (with no water added—all natural juices—unlike most other hams on the market today) to all natural, hormone free, grass fed beef, as well as his exclusive line of summer sausage was still ahead of him.

  Ham, Echo Valley MeatsEcho Valley Meats’ Spiral Sliced Hams are Honey-Glazed.

A few years later, he purchased the already named Echo Valley Farm—there was a valley and there was an echo.  Dave thought the name was catchy and he had it trademarked as well as Echo Valley Meats.

 shark-bite-feeding-frenzy_2Echo Valley Meats has a wide variety of Packages for gift-giving!

Not long after, Dave became a sausage maker, traveling to Europe to study the craft.  His award winning summer sausage product led to discussions with Swiss Colony.  He was disappointed to learn that obtaining a purchase order would most likely involve a three year evaluation process.  Then, through the random chance of his sample product being in the wrong tasting room and an inspector declaring that all their vendors should learn to make sausage like Echo Valley Meats, Dave ended up with an order after only three months.

  filet2How about a tender, juicy, hand-trimmed, Beef Filet?

Landed a Contract and a $7,500 Loss

Dave had the pedigree in the food industry and while he always pursued the knowledge to produce an excellent product, he considers himself a graduate of the school of hard knocks.  One of those first hard knocks was landing the Swiss Colony deal of 150,000 units and discovering that he was going to take a five cent loss for each unit that he sold.

This is when he realized that he needed outside help.  His father was more old-school and never would have agreed to bring in a business consultant, but Dave says that he knew that it was necessary.  Given his cash strapped situation, he literally took out a bank loan to make it happen, not something that he’d recommend to others starting out, but it worked for him.

The next year, he made the strategic decision that rather than let someone else sell his product and take all the profit (without any of the work); he’d sell his sausages directly to consumers for less than anyone else in the industry (for a product of this extreme high quality).  Equipped now with the tools to manage his business including cash flow analysis, projecting, forecasting, overhead absorption rate and employee productivity, he has been able to profitably grow his business ever since!

2013 BOYwinner


A Local Business Success Story Goes National

Be sure to read the American Business Magazine cover story on Dave and Echo Valley Meats.  It details Dave’s full entrepreneurial journey, including his appearance on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ that propelled Echo Valley Meats’ holiday catalogue and its online sales into unimagined success.