Circle Back S2:E7: Larry Odom – The History and Success of Tennessee Pride Sausage
August 10, 2022 / Share:
Circle Back is a podcast produced by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center where we listen to success stories from big ideas to big success. On this episode of Circle Back, we get to meet Larry Odom. The Odom family founded Tennessee Pride Sausages. Join us to learn about the family’s 70+ year family business that created a household staple.
Where it started
The Odom family was a family of butchers and lived in the Germantown area of Nashville. Specializing in pork, they shifted their work in 1943 from butchering to making sausages full time. If anyone would say your father started the business, Larry’s dad would correct and say that his “mother and dad were instrumental in starting the business.” Even his aunts played a role in helping to sew the bags to put the sausages in.
Changing things up
While the family’s passion and hard work is the key contributing factor to their success, there are a few specific changes that became milestones. Up first, the branding. Larry’s Aunt Judy drew a small boy in overalls, which eventually the farm boy became the famous logo mark on the packaging. Their partnership with an advertising agency helped bring this to life too.
Initially, the processing of the hog to make sausages was done by chilling the hogs before cutting them. In the 60s, they started a new way of processing called hot boning. The meat would be seasoned and packaged and then frozen. This improved the product’s quality by increasing shelf life from 1 week to 1 month or more, enhancing the flavor, and creating production efficiencies as well. The enhanced shelf-life allowed them to grow the brand beyond state borders. And most importantly, alongside their growth and with quality top of mind, the brand worked to go above and beyond the requirements of the USDA.
A Beloved Brand
In 2012, ConAgra Foods came to Larry with an offer to buy the business. While offers had been made before, the price and the presentation didn’t feel right, but the offer in 2012 felt like the right time, price and decision for the future of Tennessee Pride.
While Larry hasn’t agreed to some of the decisions for Tennessee Pride since the sale in 2012, his family left a legacy for his family, his employees and for all Tennesseans.