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Mallory and Tanner Heikens stand in the front of their store B & R Quality Meats on Wednesday afternoon.

WATERLOO — Tanner and Mallory Heikens won’t soon forget the day they bought their first business.

“We started at the lawyer’s office at nine in the morning,” Mallory said. “By 7:30 p.m. I had a baby.”

The young Aplington couple acquired B & R Quality Meats Inc., a longtime Waterloo meat processing and wholesale business, on Aug. 17, the same day Mallory gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter.

“We get done signing papers and she said, ‘Maybe we should go to the hospital and get checked out,’” Tanner recalled. “We had a business and a baby all in one day.”

Their attention is now divided between nurturing both a new family member and a new business venture with a long history in the Cedar Valley.

B & R Quality Meats was founded in Cedar Falls in 1980 by Dennis Brennan and Mark Ratkovich, who moved the wholesaler, private-label meat supplier and retail store in 1991 to its present location at 200 Park Road in Waterloo.

Tanner Heikens, now 26, had been working in his family’s meat processing business since he was a kid. He reached out to Brennan and Ratkovich about buying their company after hearing the men were interested in selling.

He plans to keep the name.

“They were in business 38 years,” he said. “If it worked for that long, I would assume it would keep working as long as we keep taking care of our customers.”

Tanner has been busy introducing himself to those customers and getting to know the company’s 10 employees, who he credited with providing invaluable support when he was spending time at home with his wife and new daughter.

“I couldn’t be here right away,” he said.” It’s a weird feeling to just buy a business and not show up.

“Luckily we have great people working here who really helped me out in the transition,” he added. “I can’t say enough good things about them.”

B & R Quality Meats specializes in beef and pork products, with some lamb and chicken in the coolers. The business does a lot of wholesaling, primarily to restaurants, but also sells retail bundles and does a brisk holiday meal business.

The Heikens expect eventually to add more products and have a long-term goal of doubling the size of the business.

“My overall goal is to grow the business and bring more jobs to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area,” Tanner said. “But immediately (our customers) are probably not going to notice much, if any, changes.

“Over time they may see new products in here. I’ve always heard the saying, ‘diversify or die.’

“But, for me, it’s more listening to the customer,” he added. “If the customer wants something we’re going to try to accommodate them any way we can.”

The company’s business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The retail store is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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