LINCOLN - When you see the Made in Montana sticker on an item you know you are getting a unique piece of the Treasure State.
And at Hi-Country Snack Foods in Lincoln they are not just selling Made in Montana products but the entire Montana lifestyle to people all over the country.
Hi-Country snacks have been found in the backpacks of hunters and hikers all over the country since 1976.
But recently the company, located on Highway 200, has shifted its focus to making its products using more Montana-born, raised and produced beef.
“But that being said, Montana beef in particular, is great because it’s never frozen, it’s fresh and it just makes for a great product. Great product,” said Chief Operations Officer Steve Fehrs. “Montana beef sort of dovetails nicely with what we talked about earlier, in terms of supporting Montana businesses in general."
"So, what’s good for Hi-Country, should be good for Montana businesses as well and good for Montana. Montana sells, quite frankly Montana sells," Fehrs continued. "Montana is a little bit unique I believe in the respect that when people come here they look specifically for lifestyle sort of items to purchase and Made in Montana items.
Selling that lifestyle goes beyond just beef.
“So if we can support Montana businesses through purchasing their beef, purchasing their lentils, jams, jellies, you name it," added Fehrs. "Whatever we can do to support Montana businesses.
“We’ve all worked hard to get everything to where it is," said Hi-Country Trading Post Manager Rea Fallis. "We’ve worked hard to add value to everything and make sure Montanans come first.”
That effort is getting some much-deserved attention, with Hi-Country winning the 2022 Value Add AG of the Year award from the Montana Manufacturing Association.
“We had to be nominated for that award," Fehrs told MTN News. "The governor handed it out. It’s a great award to be recognized by the Montana Chamber of Commerce and Montana Manufacturers Association as being a great company in Montana.”
And they are not done yet — there are more improvements in their sights.
“Our jerky auto-fill equipment that we looked at earlier, we should be able to do in the range of four times the product in a day," said Fehrs. "Package four times the product in a day that we would typically be able to do through hand-packaging.
"So what that will allow us to do in Lincoln, Montana is increase our throughput and increase our output through the plant," Fehrs continued. "Which means that we can float wages up. We can continue to increase wages to make good paying jobs here in Lincoln, Montana.”
Montanans helping Montanans, a pretty good representation of what the Montana lifestyle is.