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Georgia Meat Cutter Makes Case For Course At Local Tech School

Leon Wildberger with Pete McDonald

Leon Wildberger, owner of meatcuttersclub.com, has been on a journey for two years to benefit the Georgia grocery industry. Georgia and surrounding states lack in qualified meat cutters, according to Wildberger who aims to have a meat-cutting course added to Northwestern Technical College.

As the owner of meatcuttersclub.com, Wildberger gets requests from different companies and recruiters to help them find meat cutters. As an advocate for meat cutters, the meat industry and grocery stores, Wildberger doesn’t charge for his service or time. He is a retired Master Journeyman Meat Cutter of 51 years and this is his way to “give back to his trade.”

“I talk to many owners and recruiters every week and know the meat-cutting profession is making a come back, but slowly because there are no meat cutters available,” Wildberger says. “No one is training meat cutters anymore. Apprenticeship programs are mostly non-existent except in a few chain stores in the Northeast. Recruiters recognizing the value of hiring experienced workers are to the point that many are offering meat cutters with three years of experience a starting salary from $16.50-$18.50 an hour, relocation, housing assistance, a full range of benefits and overtime, plus bonus potential and more. Market managers start at $18.50 up to $24 an hour.”

Wildberger adds that highly trained meat cutters are rare and valuable.

“The profession is totally undervalued today by chain stores,” he says. “Most of these companies are not out to develop highly skilled journeymen, but to lower their wage percentage. This is an in-demand position that takes understanding of beef anatomy and an understanding of how to prepare this product accurately. You cannot get a good meat cutter and expect to pay him $8 an hour. Short-sighted companies never realize that, in one hour, most poorly trained or unmotivated butchers can cost them at least double their pay.”

Last week, Wildberger met with Pete McDonald, acting president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College in Rome. Wildberger says the college had previously distributed surveys that garnered little response; only 11 of 86 surveys were returned. Wildberger, however, was able to persuade McDonald to reevaluate the surveys since some companies did not receive one.

“I hope in near future Georgia companies will again have a choice of qualified meat cutters who excel in customer service and know how to cut a profit from meat,” Wildberger says.

In the feature photo at top are Leon Wildberger, left, with Pete McDonald.


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