To understand why Englewood's Red Bird Farms is selling so much chicken in Colorado, you have to know about freshness, job-costing, and maybe even single moms and weddings. Red Bird, the state's only branded chicken processing company, has quadrupled retail sales since 1995 to $8 million in 2000, and recently was named Small Business of the Year by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.
The award recognizes Red Bird's success and their exceptional employee relations," said Selma Kristel, director of the chambers business growth center. 'We were really impressed with their commitment to people."
The swooping-chicken RedBird label is sold at King Soopers, Safeway, Albertsons and other stores in five states. In Denver, it represents about 10 percent of retail chicken sales.
Red Bird originated as Gibson's Poultry, founded by Littleton meat cutter Henry Gibson in the 1940's. He and three of his children were killed in an auto-train wreck in 1951, and the business changed hands twice afterward. In 1990, it was purchased by Mareo Torito, a Greenwood Village businessman who in the 1980s had started a Denver beef packing house, but who wanted to switch meats to develop a better brand of chicken.
Torito was a pioneer in vacuum packaging his meat for freshness, and he stresses temperature control to enhance flavor. Redbird does no slaughtering of chickens, but simply...