Chamber Member Pursues Dreams Despite Devastating Loss

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December 27, 2018
    Out of two tragedies — one that nearly cost him his life and the other that took the lives of his daughter and grandchildren — Marty Mortimer, a 2018 business management graduate and a current MBA student, found the courage to pursue two of his lifetime goals: earning a degree and starting a beef jerky business.

    As he recovered from a near-fatal motorcycle accident six years ago, Mortimer started thinking, “You need to finish something you started and show your kids you can’t give up, so I finished my associate’s degree and kept going.”

     Working full time for industrial distributor, IBT in Sioux City, Iowa, Mortimer completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration online through Friends this past May. As part of his undergraduate capstone course in summer 2017, Mortimer developed a business plan focused on his lifelong dream of owning a beef jerky company.

     “I figured I’ll never have another shot so I might as well go for it,” he said about taking the next step and actually starting the company. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been intrigued with the different flavors of beef jerky, but I was getting disappointed in the flavors I was buying. I like to have flavors in my food.”

    Then a second tragedy struck. In January, his only daughter, 27, and her four children ages 5, 2, 1 and 3 months were killed in a house fire in Pratt, Kan. Mortimer also has two sons. Mortimer said Friends officials told him he could withdraw and return later. “I couldn’t have asked for a better, more compassionate school.” He especially gives credit to Michelle Case, assistant professor and program director of MBA, for providing the most supportive and beneficial influence during his time at Friends.

    But Mortimer, 53, said he needed to stay focused on something positive and productive, not on the grief surrounding his devastating loss. He not only finished his bachelor’s degree, but he enrolled in Friends’ online professional MBA program and opened Sioux City Jerky in the subsequent months.

    Mortimer’s gourmet beef and bacon jerky products are sold in several locations in Sioux City and online at Sales have continued to grow each month, Mortimer said, noting that in one record month, he had nearly $3,000 in sales, selling more than 200 pounds of the beef jerky. The jerky comes in a variety of flavors, with some of the best-sellers including Mango Habanero, Maniacal Express, Sea Salt & Honey and Garlic Pepper.

    Mortimer plans to donate part of his company’s proceeds to Friends University and the Children’s Miracle Network in honor of his daughter, Charee, and her children.

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Marty Mortimer, Owner
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