For Ken Rutledge, every week is Thanksgiving week.
“I normally eat a Thanksgiving style meal every week,” Rutledge said. It seems appropriate for the chief executive officer of Dakota Provisions, South Dakota’s largest turkey processor, to love turkey.
Rutledge oversees an operation that employs 1,142 people, which includes plant employees and indirect employees such as truckers.
Dakota Provisions has two processing plants in Huron. One plant is about 150,000-square-feet and the second is 70,000-square-feet. The two plants process 5 million birds a year, Rutledge said.
The turkeys come from 44 producers who are members of the Hutterite Colony.
When the avian flu hit the state in 2015 and 2014, individual producers were impacted, Rutledge said. “We lost about 600,000 birds,” he said.
The producers have recovered since then. Rutledge said there is no sign of avian flu these days.
While Rutledge has a Thanksgiving-style meal each week, he still plans to have one on Thanksgiving day.
“I love Thanksgiving,” he said. “I prepare the turkey for my family. It’s a big moment for us.”