Pekin, Il - If you like to cook and you live in the Greater Peoria area, you might have come across Excalibur Seasoning products. But did you know the company's products are made in Pekin?
The business idea stems from the late Gerald "Jerry" Hall. Decades ago, he decided to sell his local, family meat market and move on from being a regional spice salesman to make his ultimate dream a reality. Jerry Hall went on to start Excalibur Seasoning with his son Jay Hall back in 1986.
Thirty-two years, 8,000 products and multiple internationally recognized certifications later, Excalibur Seasoning is the only company of its kind in Central Illinois. Employees make custom blend seasonings, sometimes with a very unique flair. And the company is constantly growing.
"Last year, we finished an expansion of another 12,000 square feet. So we have 44,000 square feet under roof right now and last year provided just under six million pounds of seasoning," said Tom Hornstein, President and CEO of Excalibur Seasoning.
With the help of 87 employees, Excalibur Seasoning sells its products to meat markets in the Greater Peoria area, all 50 states and 8 different countries.
But with growth comes challenges, one of them being ways to meet the demands of millenials.
"They're wanting clean labels and they're wanting exotic flavors," Hall said. "Most flavors are plated on a multi-dextrose. Well, millenials don't want to see multi-dextrose on their label."
So Hall says with a dash of creativity and a pinch of determination, they're able to come up with alternatives to make flavorful seasonings.
But where did the Excalibur name come from? Hall says his sister, Diane came up with it.
"Dad was writing up formulas on the dining room table and he says 'Diane, if you were going to start a spice company, what would you call it?' And she goes 'Excalibur!' because she just saw the movie," Hall laughed.
And he says Excalibur Seasoning is cooking up the recipe for success.
"There's always something new. Whether it's trying to come up with new flavor profiles...you never stop learning. If you stop learning you're done."
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