WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | MI JERKY COMPANY
Growing up on a farm, Chris Fayling often heard people say that he should put his head down and work hard to retire at age 65 and then enjoy life. This line of thinking never quite resonated with Fayling. He wondered, “Why wait?” Why couldn’t he work hard, enjoy his work, AND enjoy his family life?
Fast forward years later, now married with kids, Fayling found himself working long hours in physically demanding work – seven days a week and away from his family. It got old fast. He had long been thinking of creating a jerky business; it’s a food he loves but didn’t partake in often. He was always searching for something better than what he found in the stores.
Exhausted, Fayling and his wife sat down to discuss options. She was working a second shift and suggested they switch roles. She would move to the first shift, and he would stay home with the kids, homeschool them, and start to bring his business idea to life. They both agreed this was best for their family.
Fayling began working on the next steps: a sales plan, website, and recipes. He already enjoyed creating his beef jerky, so now it was time to step it up. He had done extensive research before leaving his job, so things fell into place pretty quickly.
What makes MI Jerky so special? The primary reason is that it is all brisket. “First and foremost, if you start with a great piece of meat, you can’t go wrong,” said Fayling.
From the standard Teriyaki and Original, flavors only get more interesting. Carne Asada, with hints of lime and cilantro and a bit of taco-type spice. Dill Pickle is heavy on the dill and light on the sour. Carolina Reaper – YOWZA! Fayling claims that if you can eat his Carolina Reaper jerky, you can probably eat pepper spray.
MI Jerky currently offers ten interesting flavors. So, which one is Fayling’s favorite? Truthfully, he loves them all – that’s why he created them! – but narrowed to his top five, the list starts with Carolina Reaper (which he can only eat in small amounts). Next is Smoky Bar-B, moist with tons of BBQ flavor and a tiny bit of heat and sweet on the backside. Rounding out the list are Carne Asada, Cracked Pepper, and Smoky Sriracha. “To be honest, I probably eat them all daily. That’s how much I love MI Jerky.”
MI Jerky comes in 3-ounce packages. Since it is made with brisket from free-range beef, it is high in protein and low in fat. There is no added MSG or nitrates, and any smoke flavoring is all-natural. Because the meat is naturally smoked, the intensity can be tailored to the variety. MI Jerky offers gluten-free options as well.
The initial online launch went well, but Fayling realized that he needed to hit the bricks and start talking to people about his amazing products. Growing up, his salesman father used to take him along on sales calls, so Fayling learned early on how to connect with people genuinely: get to know them and learn what they need. It seems that selling was in his blood. He packed up his two-and-a-half-year-old son, and off they went.
It wasn’t long, and this super dad and entrepreneurial go-getter was building his retail client base. Sales were proving just how tasty and high-quality this product was. Fayling was adding new retail locations every week. Launched in December 2020, MI Jerky is already available in 14 retail stores.
Fayling urges those who are not local to the Galesburg area to visit the website to place an order. MI Jerky offers free shipping and even pays the sales tax for you!
The company’s tagline says it all: “MI Jerky is better than yours … and that’s a fact, Jack!” Fayling hopes you will try it and find out for yourself!
MI Jerky Company
2086 South 35th Street
Galesburg, MI 49053