Jon Frohling was born in Hecla, SD on October 9, 1971. As a child he grew up in his parent’s grocery store, Frohling’s Jack and Jill. The grocery store had a full grocery department with a meat department in the back where they did custom slaughtering. When Jon was 13 years, old his Dad had his first heart attack and Jon started doing all of the slaughtering for his Dad. Every Wed. morning from 7-noon, Jon would do all of the slaughtering and then finish the day in school. After graduating high school, Jon worked for area farmers, the local elevator and became an EMT. In 1990 Jon’s dad, Norman, asked Jon to come back and work at the grocery store full time. Jon took over managing the meat department while Jon’s Mom, Marilyn, ran the grocery department. In 1994, Jon married Stephanie Dinger, his next door neighbor. In 1995 they started their family and went on to have four children, Devin, Tyson, Kyle, and Maddison. In 1997 Jon and Stephanie decided to build a meat processing plant to accompany the grocery store. Their grand opening was scheduled for Nov. and Jon’s Dad died of another heart attack two months before the grand opening. In 2000 Jon and Stephanie purchased the grocery store from Jon’s Mother and then in 2002 Jon and Stephanie purchased the restaurant next to their processing plant and started Frohling’s catering, specializing in large group parties.
Jon joined the South Dakota Association of Meat Processors in 1998 and attended his first show that spring. Upon entering the cured meats competition, Jon won his first award with a Grand Champion on his Whole Bone in Ham. Since that first competition, Jon has won over 90 South Dakota State Awards. In 2000 Jon joined the Tri-State Meat Association (SD, ND, MN), which is now the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors, and since then has won over 50 tri-state awards.
In 2003 Jon joined and attended his first national convention. Jon told his wife Stephanie, before going to Kansas City that year, “I just want to say I won one National Award.” That first national convention, Jon won seven awards and since then has went onto win over 70 National Cured Meat Awards on various products since 2003. Jon prides himself on always trying to take something different each year. Along with sausage competition awards, Jon has also won recognition as Top 40 People under 40 in the Dakotas. He has also been named a Dakota Heartland Business Winner in 2001. In 2009 Jon was awarded the American Association of Meat Processors Accomplishment Award. This is an award given to and individual or company that demonstrates excellence in the meat industry over a short period of time. In 2010 and 2011 Jon won the Minnesota Sweepstakes Award that recognizes the overall points champion of the Cured Meat competition. Jon was awarded the AAMP Excellence Award in 2011. This was the first year that this award was given to a business that showed overall excellence in every category of the cured meat championships.
Jon joined the board of the South Dakota Association of Meat Processors in 1999 and became President in 2003. He has been on the board ever since. Jon was reelected President in 2010 and will serve a four-year term. In 2005 Jon was elected to the American Association of Meat Processors, AAMP, board of directors, and became President in 2011.
In 2007 Jon was approached by Native American Natural Foods, a Lakota Sioux Company, out of Rapid City, SD to produce a low-calorie energy bar made from South Dakota raised buffalo. Jon developed the Tanka Bar, which has been featured in the New York Times, Star Alliance Videos, and featured on 20/20 with Diane Sawyer. The Tanka Bar was named the 2010 Backpacker Magazine New Product of the Year Award. The Tanka Bar is sold in over 500 stores and in all 50 states. Since then, Jon has developed two line extensions to the Tanka Bar one of them being the Tanka Spicy.
In 2009, Native American Natural Foods had Jon develop them an all-natural, no nitrite, 100% lean buffalo hotdog, called the Tanka Dog. This hotdog is made in two sizes and is distributed across the United States. .Jon has also developed them a summer sausage and a snack stick using 100% buffalo, cranberries and wild rice from other Native American tribes.
Jon has taught sausage and cured meat classes at several colleges including Perdue University. Jon also talks to the SDSU meats class almost every year, and has been involved in several meat short courses at SDSU. Jon has helped in seminars at the AAMP convention several different times. Jon has judged cured meat competitions in several surrounding state conventions. Jon also does classes and tours for local FFA groups and elementary students. Each year Jon holds a brat contest for 4th grade elementary students. The students each submit an idea for a “new” brat. They name their brat and then list the ingredients in the brat. Jon picks a winner, makes their brat and hosts a tour and awards ceremony for the students. Some of the winner’s ideas are some of Frohling’s top sellers.
It is Jon’s passion for the art of processed and cured meats that has excelled him to the top of his art. He is constantly trying to improve his products through research, and attending sausage short courses and seminars to expand his knowledge of the art of making cured meat products. He strives for excellence in everything that he does, and this is what drives him to create new items for his customers. He loves to hear his customers say, “What are your new items for this year?”