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Months-long training makes for smooth transition at area business

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FORDYCE — A longtime Fordyce business is under new ownership, but you’d be hard pressed to notice much of a difference.

That’s because Rich and Tricia Millage, owners of T&R Butcher Block, have worked hard on a seamless transition of ownership to Jared “JT” Allen of Crofton.

“His intentions are that everything will remain the same,” Tricia said. “He even kept the name the same. He wants the customers to keep familiar with what they’ve been getting for the last 21 years because we have a really good following.”

Allen became the new owner Jan. 4, but has been working with the Millages since October, making each product multiple times. The recipes, the ingredients, all those trade secrets - the “meat and potatoes” if you will - were shared with him.

The business specializes in custom processing of beef and pork for customers. They also have a full retail line of federally inspected products such as sausage, brats, beef sticks, hotdogs, jerky and every cut of meat you can think of filling their coolers. Seasonings, marinades, cheese, and butter add to the offerings.

Sausage is the most popular product, said Tricia, and they have seven different recipes.

“People will come home to visit their families and they’ll take meat back to their homes with them,” she said. “When they know they’re coming, they’ll call and place an order so that it’s ready when they’re home on holiday.”

She’s fielded a few odd requests over the 21 years in business including one to process an ostrich when they first opened. (They can’t do ostrich meat, by the way).

Allen said since he’s started working at T&R Butcher Block, he’s been most surprised at the sheer volume of meat that’s produced. Allen has previous experience in meat processing but only for his own family.

One staff member is staying on at the business under Allen’s ownership while five new staff are coming in. Allen said he’s looking for more help as well.

The Millages will remain involved in the business until Feb. 13 to help train new staff.

“They’ve been really awesome. They’ve taught me a bunch and helped me along the way and made for a really smooth transition,” Allen said.

The business is closed Tuesdays and Sundays. Business hours are 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., weekdays; and 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday.

Having a business for 21 years and selling it, is kind of like watching your baby grow up and leave the nest, said Tricia.

“It’s bittersweet to turn it over,” she said. “Our bodies are ready for it, but our minds aren’t.”

The Millages said they appreciate the community support over the years and encourage people to continue with that same support under Allen’s ownership.

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